The disease is caused by bacterial plaque. Plaques are a thin, sticky layer of microorganisms (called a biofilm) that gathers at the gum line once there is poor oral hygiene. The plaque causes inflammation that gradually separates the gums from the teeth having been left for long periods — creating little spaces that are referred to as “periodontal pockets.”
Periodontal pockets will offer a conducive environment for disease-causing bacteria to reproduce. Should the infection remain untreated, the bacteria may spread from the gum tissues into the bone that supports the teeth, and this can result in tooth loss.
In the treatment of periodontitis, non-surgical approaches are usually advisable. These approaches consist of, but is not limited to, any of the following:
- Scaling and Root Planning: In treating gum disease, the primary goal is to eliminate bacteria and its toxins from the teeth and gums. These toxins are mostly found in the root surface of the teeth. To do this, a deep-cleaning procedure called scaling, and root planning (or root debridement) is employed. Scaling is the process of plaque removal, together with hard deposits from the surface of the teeth. Root planing is an additional process that helps to make the tooth’s root surface smooth so that bacteria cannot adhere to it easily.
- Antibiotics/Antimicrobials: The unchecked progress of gum disease creates periodontal pockets and bone loss. It will lead to the formation of tiny areas that are difficult to clean with handheld instruments. It is sometimes advisable to disinfect these hidden areas with an antimicrobial rinse that contains chlorhexidine, tetracycline, or doxycycline. It must be noted that these are used only on a short-term basis because prolonged use can harm the beneficial bacteria.
- Bite Adjustment: In situations where patients suffer from tooth loss, it becomes imperative to protect from the pressure of biting and chewing. Most notably, where they have teeth-grinding or clenching habits. To solve this, the patient may carefully re-size the enamel’s surface to adjust the mode of contact between the upper and lower teeth. This will result in less force and tooth mobility.
- Alternatively, the patient can choose to join the teeth using a metal brace. Another option is that the patient will be provided with a bite guard to wear when he/she is most likely to grind or clench your teeth.
- Oral hygiene: the importance of daily dental routine can not be overstated as it aids the removal of dental plaque, which is the leading cause of periodontal disease. This automatically gives patients a significant role to play in keeping their mouths disease-free. They are instructed in the most effective brushing and flossing techniques, and given recommendations for products for home use and are encouraged to keep up the routine daily. Patients with a smoking habit are advised to give it up as it hinders not just your mouth, but your whole body in its fight against diseases.
Usually, non-surgical treatment is all that is needed to control a periodontal infection, restore oral tissues to good health, and tighten loose teeth. Thus, at this point, patients are expected to maintain their oral hygiene routine at home and have regular checkups and cleanings at the dental office to secure their best chance of remaining disease-free.