Your smile is important for many reasons. Not only is it necessary to help you eat and speak properly, but it is also one of the first things people see, helping you make a great first impression. Even though most people know the importance of brushing and flossing, many cases of gum disease still develop. In reality, 64.7 million adults have some form of periodontitis, which affects the underlying health and the look of the mouth, teeth, and gums. This guide and your dentist will help you understand and treat severe periodontitis so you can restore your smile back to a healthy and attractive state.
Scaling and Root Planing
During the early stages of gum disease, your gum tissue will be red and swollen. You may have some light pain and bleeding when brushing and flossing your teeth. Because it is a progressive disorder, gum disease will worsen over time. Eventually, the plaque will harden into tartar on the tooth roots and your gum tissue, resulting in a more severe case of periodontitis.
During this stage, your dentist will recommend a scaling and root planing procedure. Also known as SRP, the treatment begins by scaling away the plaque and tartar from the teeth, roots, and gum tissue. Then, the roots are smoothed to prevent bacteria from building back on the teeth and gums.
Scaling and root planing allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach itself to the teeth. This improves the look of your smile but also heals the gum disease.
In some cases, the gum tissue may not heal properly even after a scaling and root planing treatment. This will require a more involved procedure that cleans out the actual pockets formed in the gum tissue.
Known as a pocket reduction or flap surgery, the procedure first starts by the dentist folding back sections of the gum tissue. This allows your dentist to reach the underlying areas of infected gum tissue, removing food residue and bacteria to help the gums heal in a more efficient manner.
Without treating the early stages of gum disease, it will worsen. Over time, as the gums become inflamed and pull back from the teeth, more food and bacteria will build up under the gum tissue and on the jaw bone.
The bacteria and toxins will infect the bone, causing it to break down. This decreases the amount of support your teeth have, which can lead to the loss of one or more teeth. In addition, without support bone in your jaw, the look of your smile and your entire face will be changed.
After scaling and teeth and cleaning away infected buildup in the gum tissue, a bone-grafting surgery will be necessary to restore the jaw bone back to its original state.
Natural bone from a different part of your body or synthetic bone will be placed in your jaw where you are experiencing the bone loss. Tissues are also surgically placed to help stimulate new growth, ensuring your new bone fuses to the existing healthy part of your jaw.
If you have already lost teeth due to the gum disease, the bone-grafting procedure is even more important to ensure implants have the support they need when you are ready to restore your smile.
Once your gum disease is treated and your gums and bone have been restored, you and your dentist can determine when to begin the process of placing dental implants.
Implant dentistry involves surgically placing a titanium rod into the actual bone. Once this rod fuses with your jaw bone, the implant crowns are attached to the top of the rod. These crowns will resemble your natural teeth.
Maintaining your implants is just as important as maintaining your natural teeth. Be sure to brush and floss as normal and schedule routine checkups with your dentist to reduce the risk of developing periodontitis again.