August 11, 2019
When it comes to beautiful smiles, many people pay plenty of attention to the teeth but don’t spare much thought to the gums. Yet these soft tissues are just as important to your oral health as your pearly whites, which is why they need just as much care and attention from your dentist. Learn more about periodontal therapy and why it could you reason to keep grinning.
What is Periodontal Therapy?
The word “periodontal” is derived from the Greek word “peri”, which means “around”, and “odous”, meaning “tooth.” In other words, periodontal therapy is based around treating the tissues near or around the tooth, which primarily means the gums. It’s slightly different form of dentistry than what people usually think about, but it’s no less important for treating and preventing serious oral health issues.
Why Do You Need Periodontal Therapy?
Periodontal disease – more commonly called gum disease – is when the gums have been infected by the bacteria in plaque or tartar. The first stage of the condition is called gingivitis. You may notice some redness or swelling in your gums, and there might be some bleeding whenever you brush your teeth or floss. Gingivitis can sometimes be reversed if you improve your oral hygiene habits, but without such care, it can eventually develop into periodontitis. This disease is much more severe and attacks the bone underneath the gums; your teeth may become loose or even lost altogether. Also, several studies show that patients with advanced gum disease are at a higher risk of heart attacks and other life-threatening problems.
As you can imagine, gum disease will be a lot easier to treat in its earliest stages before too much damage can be done; however, if you are suffering from advanced periodontitis, periodontal therapy will be the only real option for reversing the damage.
What Happens During Periodontal Therapy?
The goal of periodontal therapy is twofold: get rid of the bacteria causing the infection, then take preventive steps to avoid future issues.
The first step is called scaling. The dentist uses a special tool to remove plaque and tartar around or below the gum line. After that, they’ll smooth the tooth roots via a process called root planing; this will make it harder for bacteria to reattach themselves to these surfaces in the future. Finally, you’ll likely be put on antibiotic therapy to further reduce the risk of an infection reoccurring. In most cases, you’ll also need more frequent cleanings at the dentist’s office.
If you notice the warning signs of gingivitis, don’t ignore them! Call your dentist right away for a thorough examination. When asking about periodontal therapy, don’t forget to ask about other ways you can take better care of your gums at home; after all, maintaining a healthy smile is a full-time job!
About the Author
Dr. William Olafson completed a one-year General Practice Residency at the Albert Einstein Medical Center, during which he received advanced training in many fields including gum surgery. He’s skilled in treating various forms of gum disease. To schedule an appointment at his practice in Weymouth, Columbian Square Dental, visit his website or call (781) 337-6644.
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