A diagnosis of gum disease can be a frightening thing, but it’s a reality for many Canadians. In fact, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for Canadian adults. The good news is that it’s almost always preventable, and if you’re already living with the effects of gum disease, there are many procedures we can offer for treatment and improvement.
When plaque and tartar build up on the teeth, they bring along bacteria that, if left untreated, infects the gum tissue. In its first stages, this infection results in inflammation known as gingivitis, but its more severe form can include pain, discomfort, and tooth loss, as well as taking a toll on your overall health and wellness.
Here’s what we can do to help with your periodontic issues:
Scaling is what we do at every hygiene appointment; it’s the process of removing plaque and tartar from the teeth. Periodontic scaling is a deeper and more involved process, removing plaque, tartar, and diseased tissue from below the gumline, and down to the roots if necessary, which is known as root planing. These procedures are necessary in order to provide a healthier environment for the gums to heal.
Although we try to avoid tooth extraction, it is sometimes necessary when the tooth has been too damaged by the advance of gum disease. In these cases, removing the tooth is better for the surrounding teeth and tissues. Tooth extraction is always done with individualized care.
After extraction or natural tooth loss, the missing tooth leaves behind a hole in the jaw, in the bone known as the alveolar ridge. Over time, the ridge bone can collapse into those holes, leaving a sunken look in the cheeks and threatening the preservation of the remaining teeth. In order to avoid this, and to shore up the bone in case of future restorations like dental implants, we can preserve the ridge and socket with dental materials. It’s a smart investment in both your appearance and your future tooth replacement options.
In a mouth with healthy gum tissue, the gum fits tightly around the base of the teeth. When a patient experiences periodontal issues, those gum tissues can begin to move away from the teeth as more tissue and bone are affected by the gum disease. This leaves behind little pockets around the teeth, which make it even easier for bacteria to invade. To combat this, we use a procedure called pocket depth reduction, in which we fold back the gum, remove any diseased tissue and disinfect, then secure the gum tissue back into place. A reduced pocket gives you a much better chance at fighting the advance of gum disease and retaining the tooth.
A flap procedure is the opening up of the gum tissue (by means of a “flap”), in order to clean out the diseased inner tissue and then re-closing the flap. This increases your body’s chance at fighting back against the harmful bacteria and gives the gums an opportunity to heal. The flap procedure gives us access to deeper areas, making this an effective tool against the spread of gum disease.
A frenectomy is the removal of a “frenulum”, which is a small band of tissue connecting the lip, floor of the mouth, or cheek to the gums. Frenectomies are used for people who have an extra frenula attaching the tongue to the mouth (“tongue-tied”), and for other reasons as well. Frenula can attach the lip too closely to the top teeth, or cause gapping in the gum tissue by pulling the gums away from the teeth. When this happens, we recommend removing the frenulum in order to prevent any periodontal issues.
Don’t forget: your best weapon against gum disease is prevention! Keep seeing your dentist regularly, and practice good oral hygiene at home, and we can stop any problems before they start. However, if you’re already battling gum disease, we are in your corner! We will provide the procedures, advice, and care you need to improve and maintain your oral health - and your smile - for a lifetime.