Gum disease can be a frightening thought. No one wants to think about having to deal with the consequences of this painful and unsightly condition, and if you are fortunate enough to be free of periodontal issues, then the good news is that they are almost always entirely preventable. Good oral hygiene and proper dental care is key to making certain gum disease never knocks at your door, and every routine check-up appointment you keep is one more fight you’ve won against it.
But for those patients already dealing with the effects of gum disease, it’s vital to receive the treatments they need to fight its progression and to alleviate the symptoms. At Rochford Family Dental, we offer a full range of periodontic services, all performed with our trademark compassion and skilled care.
Though we try to avoid tooth loss as a rule, there are times when a tooth extraction is necessary for periodontics patients. When one tooth has been heavily damaged, it may be best to remove it so that it doesn’t begin to affect the surrounding teeth. When this is necessary, we perform the tooth extraction in our office, with all necessary follow-up care.
Ridge socket preservation
After the loss of a tooth, or its extraction, an empty spot is left in the jaw where the root of the tooth once was. If left unfilled, over time the jawbone in the area will begin to collapse, which leads to a sunken appearance in the jaw, and also renders the site unsuitable for a tooth replacement option like an implant or bridge. With ridge/socket preservation, we preserve the bone and minimize its loss by packing the empty socket with dental materials, helping it to heal and preventing its collapse. This improves the patient’s appearance and also helps to prepare the site for any future tooth replacement.
The lower jawbone sits in an area known as the alveolar ridge. When tooth loss causes areas of bone loss there, ridge augmentation builds up the bone in order to make it a better candidate for tooth replacement or to improve appearance. This is done by placing bone graft material in the tooth socket, and suturing the gum tissue above it.
The maxillary sinuses sit just behind your cheeks, at the top of your upper teeth. The sinuses themselves are empty; these spaces allow air to flow through. The roots of the upper teeth can extend into this area, and if the top teeth are lost or removed, this can leave only a very thin wall of bone between the maxillary sinus and the roof of the mouth. This thin bone is not deep enough for dental implants, which require a certain quantity of healthy bone for successful implantation. A sinus augmentation is a bone grafting procedure which builds up this sinus bone. Strengthening existing bone and growing new bone in this area provides a better environment for the dental implant.
Bone grafts are performed anywhere in the mouth where bone loss has occurred due to missing teeth. Bone grafts can encourage new bone growth in the area as well as building it up, and greatly improves appearance as well as making the site more receptive to a dental implant.
Gum grafting is the process of taking gum tissue, harvested from the roof of the mouth, and implanting it in areas of the gumline that need to be thickened and strengthened. The procedure varies depending on the extent of the graft and the patient’s gum condition, but follows this same basic procedure. After the gum heals, the patient’s gumline will look better as well as reducing tooth sensitivity and improving overall gum health in the area.
Pocket depth reduction
With healthy gum tissue, the gumline fits snugly around the base of the teeth. In a patient with gum disease, the gums can separate from the teeth, as the bacteria from untreated plaque and tartar destroys the tissues. Pockets form and become deeper as the tissue becomes more and more compromised. In order to stop this process, we use pocket depth reduction, in which the area is fully cleaned and scaled before treating with antibacterial liquid and then stitching the gum into place. This goes a long way to promote healing and reduce the progression of the gum disease.
Treating the teeth of a patient with gum disease sometimes requires the dentist to reach the roots of the teeth, in order to perform root planing. In this case, we use a flap procedure to access the root, by making an incision into the gum and folding it back like a flap, exposing the roots and bone. Once treatment is finished, the flap is stitched back together.
A frenum is a small piece of tissue connecting the gums to the surrounding mouth. At times, the dentist may recommend removal of one of these strips of tissue, in order to reduce the stress on the compromised gums if the frenum is contributing to the gums beginning to gap or recede. This is a quick procedure with a brief recovery time.
Crown lengthening is performed in order to improve the health of the gums by removing compromised tissue, or to correct a “gummy smile” (a smile in which too much of the gum is shown). Basically, this procedure will reshape and contour the gum tissue as needed in order to improve appearance or aid in the treatment of gum disease, or to help prepare the tooth for a restoration.
We know that fighting gum disease can be an anxious and difficult process. At Rochford Family Dental, we’re here to help you through it, with compassionate and highly-skilled care that gets results.