You must have heard your dentist recommend you a routine “scaling and cleaning” session. Scaling is pretty much the tip of the iceberg of treatments when it comes to gum diseases. When infection progresses further into the bones, the term is “periodontitis” which literally translates into inflammation of the periodontium (the gums and the underlying bone). That is when advanced gum treatments come in.
What is advanced gum treatment
Advanced gum treatment refers to a set of procedures aimed at eliminating infection in the gums and the surrounding bone. It consists of elaborate surgical treatments like flap surgery, local drug delivery or grafting aimed at reducing the infection around the bone.
When is it recommended
Advanced gum treatment is the last shot at saving teeth that have been afflicted with severe gum infections. Any infection in the gums can slowly progress into the surrounding soft tissues and bone if left untreated. This can in turn lead to the loss of bone and supporting tissues, causing the tooth to become loose and eventually fall off. In such cases, surgical procedures are performed to either remove and clean the infected tissue, and/or bring about regeneration of the lost tissues.
Some signs that can potentially indicate gum disease are mentioned below:
Redness in the gums
Heavy tartar build up
Bleeding on brushing or spontaneously (occurs in advanced stages)
Dull pain on chewing
The treatment for gum disease is a multi-step process that is usually performed by a gum specialist or periodontist. Early signs of gum infection can be treated in a conservative manner with procedures like scaling and root planing. Your dentist may also suggest certain medications as the first line of treatment. However, any advancements in the infection may be difficult to treat non-surgically. Following are some of the commonly performed gum surgeries :
This involves the removal of pockets in diseased gums by opening them up and cleaning. In certain cases, any irregularity in the bone may also be smoothened to get rid of potential propagating spots for the bacteria. The gums are then secured tight to fit the teeth snugly.
Guided tissue regeneration
This is a method of regenerating bone tissue in areas where the surrounding bone cells are scarce. It is usually performed with flap surgery. A mesh-like fiber is placed between the gums and bone to prevent the gum tissues from growing, thus allowing the bone tissue cells to regenerate.
Soft tissue grafting
This is indicated in cases of gum recession where the tooth roots are exposed, or in diseased areas where gums are lost. A graft of soft tissue is obtained from another donor site, commonly from the palate and attached to the area where the original gum tissue is lost.
Bone surgery and grafting
Bone surgery refers to the reshaping of bony craters to avoid bacterial growth. Bone grafting is a method of stimulating bone growth and regeneration with either fragments of your own bone or through synthetic bone grafts. This can replace any bone structure lost through advanced gum diseases and increase the stability and long term function of the tooth significantly.
What to expect after the treatment
Any form of advanced gum treatment requires a considerable amount of healing period to show results. During this time, your dentist may place a medicated pack on the gums to accelerate the healing process. Medications like antibiotics may also be prescribed. Soreness or tenderness is usually expected right after the surgery. It is also crucial to maintain good oral hygiene following the treatment. Regular follow-up with the dentist is also a must.
Remember that gum diseases if left untreated, may eventually lead to tooth loss. Hence, it is always advisable to get the treatment done as soon as you can.