PERIODONTAL THERAPY (GUM DISEASE)
I do periodontal treatment and follow-up on most of my regular patients. I have received training in conservative and surgical treatments for periodontal disease. We have been using some of the newer technologies, such as bone replacement surgery, as well as the more conservative root planning, curettage and chemotherapy. I have taken dozens of courses on periodontal disease following the training that I received in dental school. Most patients can be rid of the disease with proper treatment, or at least the lifespan of their teeth can be greatly increased. Once a patient has had periodontal disease, they need to adopt some pretty diligent home care, and follow up with their dentist on a very regular basis.
About 50 percent of people over 18 years old have at least some early periodontal disease. About 70 percent of patients over 35 years old have some periodontal disease. Although there are some genetic predispositions toward the disease, it is mostly a disease of neglect.
Plaque, the soft, white film that builds up on your teeth within a day, is the main cause of periodontal disease. Plaque contains about three to five billion bacteria per gram. Many of the bacteria are harmless, but a significant number of the bacteria are toxic. The longer the plaque remains undisturbed on your teeth, the higher the proportions of toxic bacteria inhabit the plaque. The bacteria in the plaque cause inflammation, swelling and degeneration of the gingival (gum) tissue. The gum reacts by breaking its attachment with the tooth, retreating down the root and forming a "periodontal pocket." Three millimeter pockets or less are ideal, and four millimeters or more indicate periodontal disease, with the greater depths being associated with more severe disease. About half of all the teeth we pull in adults occur as a result of periodontal disease.
We try to educate and motivate our patients in techniques of brushing and flossing that help prevent or turn the disease around. There are also some pharmaceutical agents that we use to get rid of or control the disease. I find great satisfaction in helping patients to overcome this serious and usually unnecessary disease.