Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a common dental problem that can require surgical or non-surgical methods to treat. Most treatments for periodontal disease are designed to control the disease and to keep infection from developing. Some treatments can be as simple as a thorough cleaning above and below the gum line, while severe cases may be best treated by grafting healthy bone or tissue into areas that have already been damaged.
The most common surgical procedure used as one of the treatments for periodontal disease is called flap surgery. Usually done by an oral surgeon, the individual's gums are opened, allowing the medical professional access to the damaged or infected tissues underneath. This infection is then cleaned out, and damaged tissues removed and tartar cleaned away. The gums are then reattached firmly, and any previously existing spaces for bacteria to grow are filled in.
If the holes created by the periodontal disease are large enough, the medical professional may decide that donor or artificially grown bone needs to be used in order to fill in the holes. Similarly, severely damaged gum tissue may be replaced by healthy tissue taken from other areas in the mouth. With the areas cleaned of infection, the new bone or gum tissue should regenerate more healthy tissue to replace what was previously damaged.
For the most advanced cases of periodontal disease, an individual may have suffered from bone loss in and around the teeth and jaw. In these cases, it may be necessary to perform surgical procedures on this damaged bone in order to repair holes and lessen the likelihood that the infection will continue to spread. With proper care, the new pieces of grafted bone will eventually stimulate the growth of new and healthy bone cells.
For some individuals with a chance of developing the disease, early treatments for periodontal disease can help prevent some invasive surgical procedures. Scaling and root planing are painful processes in which the medical professional cleans away the plaque built up above and below the gum line. At the same time, any pitting on the tooth root is repaired to remove as many of the places for bacteria to collect as possible.
Some of the easiest and most effective treatments for periodontal disease can be done at home. Smoking can make the bacterial growth in the mouth worse, so quitting can help prevent advancement of the disease. Regular brushing will remove the tartar before it becomes plaque, and rinsing with a mouthwash recommended by a medical professional will help kill bacteria between the teeth and along the gum line. Dental checkups at least twice a year will also help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, and help diagnose potential problems early.