Periodontal disease, often referred to as gum disease, can destroy the essential gum structures that protect the teeth and keep them in place. If left untreated, the affected teeth will end up deteriorating in condition, and could end up falling out. Controlling the infection requires aggressive treatment, and some cases of gum disease may also require surgical measures to restore your oral health and appearance. For those with severely damaged teeth and gums, periodontal plastic surgery may be needed.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is generally caused by bacterial plaque that builds up on the surfaces of your teeth. When not removed, the bacteria will eventually reach the gums causing inflammation, which is the body’s defense mechanism to isolate the bacteria. But while the body’s response may be helpful, chronic inflammation can also damage the gum and bone tissue.
The supporting bone and gum attachment will eventually be lost from the teeth, creating spaces or “pockets” between the teeth and gums. As the gum pockets deepen, dental hygiene (brushing, flossing and rinsing) becomes less effective.
Aggressive Treatment of Gum Disease
The only way to stop mild forms of gum disease is by eliminating plaque, tartar and calculus from all the tooth surfaces, particularly in the tooth roots which you cannot do with mere brushing alone. Dentists use special instruments known as scalers to do this, and may also prescribe antibiotics to kill any bacteria left in your mouth.
Once bacteria have been removed, you’ll need to make some necessary changes in your lifestyle and behavior to keep the problem from recurring. Most gum diseases develop due to a lack of good oral hygiene, so, it’s wise to make a habit of brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, and to see your dentist for checkups and cleaning at least every 6 months.
If gum disease has advanced, root planing and scaling will no longer suffice. If the periodontal pockets are deep (at least 5mm), then your dentist may recommend gum surgery to clean and repair areas affected by bacteria.
Flap surgery is a popular surgical procedure, used to clean deep periodontal pockets. A 3-sided flap is created by your periodontist in the gum tissue, and one side will remain attached to the blood supply. The opening will look like an envelope flap. When the surgeon opens the flap, he or she can access the deep gum pockets and remove plaque, as well as repair any receding gums. Afterwards, the periodontist sutures the flap using stitches that will dissolve on their own.
Some cases will require regenerative techniques. When tissue and bone structure are lost, these techniques will help them re-grow. The procedures involve grafting procedures, and attaching the new tissue to the affected area. The tissue will then function as a scaffold for new tissue to grow.
Improving Your Smile with Periodontal Plastic Surgery
Whether your gum problem is caused by gum disease or genetics, periodontists can perform surgical procedures to improve your smile.
If you have excessive gums (i.e., they cover much of the surface of your teeth) or an uneven gum line, dental crown lengthening can fix the problem. Excess gum tissues are removed, so that more of your tooth surface is exposed.
Exposed tooth roots
Receding gums can cause the roots of your teeth to become exposed, and your periodontist can perform gum graft surgery to cover them and protect them from decay.
Indentations can develop in the gums and jawbone, which will make your smile less attractive. To fix this problem, ridge augmentation needs to be performed.
Gum disease is a very sneaky condition, and is capable of causing major problems to your health and well-being. If you suspect that you have a gum infection, it’s wise to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.