Non-Surgical Gum Treatments

Dentist talking with his patient about non surgical dental treatment

There is a wide range of procedures at the disposal of periodontists for the treatment of periodontal diseases and conditions. When multiple treatment choices are available, the American Academy of Periodontology supports the use of the most minimally invasive and cost-efficient option. Often, the initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling or root planing. This means that patients can undergo non-surgical treatments to restore periodontal health.

  • Scaling – When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Scaling is performed with a special dental instrument called an ultrasonic scaler which includes an irrigation process that can be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums to help reduce oral bacteria
  • Root Planing – Root planing is performed in order to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed, which promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future

Antibiotics or irrigation with anti-microbials (chemical agents or mouth rinses) may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.

When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.

Benefits of Treatment

If treatment is successful, scaling and planing may have many periodontal benefits. One is that it can help prevent disease. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the blood stream and affect other areas of the body, sometimes causing heart and respiratory diseases. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria that cause these conditions.

Another benefit of treatment is protecting teeth against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body to destroy gingival and bone tissue. This leads to tooth loss.

Finally, scaling and root planing may make the mouth more aesthetically pleasing, and should reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity. Superficial stains on the teeth will be removed during scaling and planing, adding an extra bonus to the procedures.

Did you know…

that periodontal disease is a serious epidemic throughout the U.S.? Although the disease is not contagious, it can be found in half of all adults over the age of 30. According to the Centers for Disease Control, periodontal disease can range from mild (gingivitis) to severe (periodontitis). Approximately 16 percent of Americans have either the mildest or most severe forms of periodontal disease, leaving about 30 percent with a moderately advance case of the disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate for non-surgical periodontal treatment?

Only your periodontist can tell you if you are a candidate for non-surgical periodontal treatment. However, non-surgical treatments are typically only available to patients with mild to moderate periodontal disease. Schedule a consultation with your periodontist to find out if non-surgical treatment is right for you.

What should I expect during a non-surgical periodontal treatment?

Your experience will vary depending on the type of treatment you receive. If you have especially mild periodontal disease, you may be given a custom-fitted tray delivery system for use at home. However, many patients undergo in-office scaling and root planing. During this procedure, you’ll be given a local anesthetic to prevent discomfort, and a small probe will be used to remove tartar and smooth the tooth’s root to prevent bacteria build-up.

Will I need to follow any special instructions following non-surgical periodontal treatment?

In the days following your scaling and root planing treatment, you may experience heightened tooth sensitivity. Use a sensitivity toothpaste and try to eat only soft foods to prevent pain. If you were prescribed antibiotic, be sure to take it according to your periodontist’s instructions.

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