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Goals Of Periodontal Treatment

Gum disease is the main reason people need periodontal treatment, but other gum conditions require treatment, too. Here is an overview of treatment for various conditions.

Treatment of Gum Disease
Gum (or periodontal) disease includes a number of conditions caused by bacterial infections of the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth within the jawbones. The disease can cause tissue and bone to be destroyed, and can lead to tooth loss.

A combination of professional treatment and your efforts can stop the progression of gum disease and prevent further tissue destruction. Depending on the stage of gum disease, treatment ranges from a thorough cleaning to sophisticated types of periodontal surgery.

Treatment at any stage of periodontal disease can make your gums healthier. Some people assume that losing teeth is a natural part of aging, but if you work with your dental professional to keep your gums healthy, you should be able to keep your teeth for a lifetime.

The main goals of periodontal treatment are to:

  • Eliminate the bacterial infections that cause gum disease
  • Control the inflammatory process that is responsible for destruction of the tissues anchoring the teeth to the jawbones
  • Create a healthy periodontal environment that is easy for you and your dental professional to maintain

The earliest stage of gum disease, gingivitis, usually can be stopped before it causes significant destruction of soft tissue or bone. Your general dentist or dental hygienist can treat most cases of gingivitis with a combination of in-office cleanings and instruction in good oral hygiene.

In some people, gingivitis will progress to the more advanced stages of gum disease that involve loss of the structures that anchor the teeth to the jawbones. These more advanced stages are known as periodontitis and usually require more aggressive forms of treatment than gingivitis. In this case, it is likely that your dentist will refer you to a periodontist (a gum specialist) for treatment.

Treatment of Gum Recession
Gums can recede, or shrink, even if there's no bacterial infection. One of the main causes of gum recession is improper brushing. Using a hard- or medium-bristled toothbrush can cause gums to wear away. Using too much force can also cause gums to recede over time. As the gums recede, the roots of the teeth are exposed. This may cause the teeth to become sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. In addition, teeth with significant amounts of gum recession are more prone to developing root cavities. Periodontists can treat recession by taking gum tissue from one part of your mouth and moving it to the area where the gums have receded. This is known as a soft tissue graft.

Treatment of Gum Overgrowth
For some people, the problem isn't too little gum tissue, but too much. Some people have what is known as a "gummy smile," in which the teeth look very small and the gums seem very large. Also, some medications, such as phenytoin (Dilantin and other brand names), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) and nifedipine (Adalat, Cardizem), can cause an overgrowth of gum tissue. Periodontists can remove excess gum tissue through a procedure known as gingivectomy.

©2001-2007 Aetna All rights reserved.

06/02/2005

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