Do I Need Gum Treatment?
Taking care of your gums is just as important as taking care of your teeth. Your gums are the foundation for good dental health, so it is critical that you address any gum disease issues immediately before you begin to suffer infection, decay and loss of teeth.
First Defense: Non-Surgical Intervention
At the first sign of gum disease, it is usually possible to use methods that can address the problem without surgery. These include:
- Professional cleaning. One of the many reasons to schedule a regular dental cleaning is the fact that these procedures help to remove plaque and tartar from the tooth surface. Your dentist may recommend you receive a cleaning more often that twice per year if there are signs of gum disease.
- Scaling and planing. A deep-cleaning procedure that is done under local anesthetic, scaling and planing removes plaque and tartar from beneath the gum line. This procedure can help you avoid more serious interventions such as a root canal by removing infection and disease-causing agents from deep within your gums.
- There are some drugs, such as antibiotics, which may be given in order to help a patient overcome gum disease without surgery. However, if these drugs fail to have the desired effect, or if a patient cannot take them for medical reasons, surgical procedures may be required.
Second Defense: Surgical Intervention
There are times when you simply need gum surgery to address a particular issue and avoid further infection, decay or even tooth loss. Some common gum surgeries include:
- Flap or pocket reduction surgery. If a scaling and planning procedure cannot reach tartar or infection under the gum line, surgery may be necessary to smooth damaged bone areas and reposition the gums to eliminate pockets where bacteria can multiply. This type of gum surgery can prevent the need for tooth extraction and can prevent dangerous gum infections.
- Bone graft. A bone graft may be necessary if the natural bone has been damaged by disease or trauma. A bone graft uses a piece of your own bone or synthetic bone products to encourage regeneration of damaged tissue and gives your teeth a strong foundation.
- Tissue grafts. Like a bone graft, a tissue graft can help your body regenerate lost gum tissue. The graft is often taken from the roof of the mouth and is stitched into place near the damaged area. Guided tissue regeneration is a special form of grafting that uses a small piece of special mesh fabric that sits between the bone and the gum to guide the growth of new tissue and prevent scar tissue from affecting the bone regrowth.
What Should I Do Before and After Gum Treatment?
The most important thing you can do, both before and after a gum treatment, is to inform your dentist of any existing or new medical conditions, even if you do not think they are related to your gum issues. You should always tell the dentist about any medications you are taking, as well as recent surgeries or other medical treatments you have had and any chronic disease from which you suffer. This will help your dentist to make good decisions about the procedures and medications that will best benefit you and address your gum disease issues. Be sure to tell your dentist if you have any type of heart condition or if you have had a stroke in the past before you receive anesthesia or undergo any dental procedure.