Periodontics is the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease and oral inflammation. Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease and it is very important to treat it in its early stages. Today, it is the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults and it has also been linked to serious conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Brushing and flossing alone are not enough to treat gum disease once it has begun. Your dentist has a number of treatments available for gum disease.
Arestin is an antibiotic (minocycline hydrochloride) that is used to treat the bacteria that cause gum disease. It comes in powder form, and is placed in the root pockets of your gums once your dentist has completed scaling and root planing. It is highly effective and treats gum disease at the source.
Advanced tooth decay can damage a tooth to the point where it cannot be restored without a procedure known as crown lengthening. It is actually a bit of a misnomer, since it does not lengthen the crown – it lowers the gum line. This procedure is used when there is not enough tooth remaining to anchor a crown (for instance, if it has been broken below the gum line). Crown lengthening exposes more of the tooth so that the crown can be anchored.
A frenulum is simply a bit of tissue that keeps an organ from moving. One attaches your upper lip to the gums and another attaches the lower lip. If the frenulum is too thick or too short, teeth can become misaligned and speech can be adversely affected. A frenectomy removes part of the frenulum and can be done with either a scalpel or a laser. It takes about fifteen minutes and is done under local anesthetic (except for children, who require a general anesthetic).
With advanced gum disease, bacteria build up and your gums stretch, creating large pockets. Even when the pockets are cleaned out, they remain on the gum line, causing the gums to recede and exposing too much tooth structure. This is unsightly and unhealthy. With gum grafting, some soft tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth and grafted to the gum line in order to cover the exposed surface and encourage new tissue growth. This is a routine procedure and will return your gums to their normal condition.
If you wake with pain in your jaws or you feel as though you can’t “find” your bite, you may need an occlusal adjustment. This is a procedure that corrects a bad bite that has resulted from crowded, shifting, loose or missing teeth. Your dentist performs the occlusal adjustment using a drill and a fine stone for filing. Once the procedure is completed, your teeth will meet properly.
Teeth can loosen because of misalignment, injury, orthodontic treatment or loss of gum tissue. Periodontal splinting is a new treatment that attaches weak teeth together so that they are stronger and more stable than they would be on their own. The same composite material that the dentist uses to fill your teeth is used to attach or splint the teeth together.
Cosmetic Periodontal Surgery
If you have elongated teeth, an uneven gum line or a gummy smile, cosmetic periodontal surgery can improve your appearance. Your cosmetic dentist basically sculpts your gum line so that it is in proper proportion to your teeth. If your gums have receded and your teeth look overly long, soft tissue grafts can restore the balance. On the other hand, if your teeth look too short, the excess gum can be removed.
Scaling & Root Planing
When plaque and tartar stay on your teeth, a perfect environment is created for bacteria to flourish. This leads to gingivitis. In its early stages, it is easy to treat by means of a professional cleaning (scaling). Left untreated, the condition will get worse, and you will need root planing. This is a process that smooths out the root surfaces and removes infected areas. It can usually be done without anesthetic and completed in a single treatment. Very advanced cases may require the use of a local anesthetic and more than one appointment.
Soft Tissue Graft
If your gums have receded significantly in a specific area, you may need a soft tissue graft in order to protect the roots of your teeth, which are softer than the enamel and more vulnerable to plaque and bacteria. The graft is done by removing healthy gum tissue from other teeth or from the roof of your mouth and can prevent the need for serious periodontal surgery.
Osseous surgery reshapes the bone holding the teeth in place. It is preceded by scaling and root planing, and done under local anesthetic. The dentist uses a sharp tool and a drill to re-shape the bone. In cases of extreme damage, bone grafting may be needed. Once the bones are restored to their original condition, your gums are stitched back into position.
Dr. William Schlesinger practices periodontics at 255 East 70th Street, Suite 1E, New York, NY. You can book an appointment by calling 212-517-5940 or using the form on our Contact Us page. If you feel you are a candidate for periodontal treatment or think your gums could benefit, set up an appointment today! Following you periodontal treatment, be sure to follow our aftercare instructions for a speedy recovery. For any questions, please refer to our FAQs page.