What is Periodontal Therapy?

Periodontal therapy includes the range of professional treatments performed to treat periodontal disease. Treating your periodontal disease improves your overall health and can save your teeth.

Periodontal disease, often referred to as “gum disease”, is an infection of the structures around the teeth. Although there can be signs, even the most severe periodontal disease can occur without any pain. To learn more about this condition please visit Why Am I Being Referred.

Periodontists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease, management of soft tissue, and in the placement of dental implants. Dr. Dow performs a complete range of periodontal services including periodontal cleanings and surgical procedures.

Treatment of Periodontal Disease

The earliest stages of periodontal disease (gingivitis) may only require a regular dental cleaning to return inflamed gums to health and may prevent the need for more invasive treatment. Scaling and root planing is a treatment for more severe stages of periodontal disease. Plaque and calculus are carefully removed off the teeth and roots down to the bottom of the periodontal pocket. This focused cleaning helps the gum tissue heal and reattach to the tooth.

Improvements in the pocketing are evaluated 4 to 6 weeks following scaling and root planing. Slight pockets are likely to improve to the point where they do not require surgery. Deep pockets, with evidence of bone loss, may require additional treatment such as periodontal surgery.

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and Root Planing is a non-surgical “deep” cleaning which provides more focused efforts than a standard teeth cleaning. The treatment is aimed at removing plaque and dental calculus from the tooth surfaces. These substances adhere to the teeth as sticky or hardened residues and are the result of bacterial colonies under the gums. If these plaques and bacteria are not removed frequently, they can produce acids which promote tooth decay and gingivitis. Scaling and root planing can be an effective way to treat gum disease before it becomes severe and chronic. It can also be a first step in determining the bodies ability to respond to therapy, or preparing the tissue to respond more favorable to surgery in more advanced periodontal disease.  

The Procedure: Scaling and root planing is usually performed with local anesthesia and involves cleaning below the gum line. The plaque and dental calculus is firmly scraped away and the roots of the tooth are smoothed. The will help promote reattachment of the gum tissue and lead to a healthier mouth.

The Appointment Time: The procedure is normally scheduled in two separate treatment times. Typically one half of the mouth is treated at each visit.

The Follow Up: Dr. Dow likes to evaluate your response to this treatment about 4 to 6 weeks after the treatment is completed.

Periodontal Surgery

If the pocket depths are not resolved entirely after scaling and root planing, Periodontal Surgery (Gingival Flap and Osseous Surgery) may be recommended. Periodontal surgery allows the periodontist to access hard-to-reach areas, remove the plaque and calculus and replace the tissue so that the pocket is minimized. The gums are stitched into place to “hug” the teeth tightly and heal. Surgery can reduce the pocket depth and allow for easier cleaning of the teeth.

Bone Grafting and Tissue Regeneration may be possible if the bone around a tooth has been damaged due to periodontal disease leaving behind what is referred to as a bony defect. The periodontist can rebuild the support for the tooth by cleaning the defect, placing bone graft, covering the bone with a membrane, everything is sewn into place to allow for healing. If the tooth can be stabilized, kept clean and left undisturbed, then the body can regenerate the supporting structures which had been lost. For more information, please visit Bone Grafting.

Periodontal Maintenance

Periodontal maintenance is a type of professional cleaning performed by a dental hygienist following scaling and root planing or surgical treatment, with the goal of prohibiting return of the disease. Periodontal maintenance is usually needed every 3 months and alternating these cleaning appointments between your general dentist and periodontist can help your periodontal health.