Plaque occurs naturally in the mouth and it’s usually effectively cleaned away with daily brushing and flossing. When these dental hygiene habits are not kept, it builds up and allows the bacteria in it to grow and attack the gums and teeth. This can lead to dental cavities in the teeth and inflammation in the gums. If left untreated, this inflammation could lead to damage in the gums, even affecting the bone structure and causing it to deteriorate. This means that gum recession or even tooth loss could occur. Fortunately, periodontal disease is treatable (and, more importantly, preventable). It is detected through periodontal screenings during routine examinations at the dentist’s office.
Both surgical and non-surgical treatments are available to address periodontal disease, depending on how advanced it is. Non-surgical treatment consists of a procedure called scaling and planing. Also known as deep cleaning, this procedure removes the plaque and calculus (tartar) from the tooth surfaces as well as from the periodontal pockets below the gum line (scaling). The planing part of the procedure smooths out the tooth roots to remove bacterial toxins and discourage bacteria from collecting there again. Smoothing out the roots also helps to shrink the periodontal pockets and heal the damaged tissue.
If a scaling and planing procedure does not improve the condition of the gums, surgical treatment may be necessary. These include gum graft surgery, pocket reduction procedures, and laser treatment.