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What is gum disease?

More than 75% of Americans over 30 will develop some form of gum disease at some point in their lives. However, with early detection and proper conservative treatment, almost all teeth can be saved.

Just as a sturdy home needs a firm foundation, so our teeth need solid support from the tissue that surrounds them. Any weakening of this supportive tissue is called perio (“around”)- dontal (“tooth”) disease.

Periodontal disease can be one of two types: gingivitis and periodontitis. The main difference between the two are that gingivitis involves only the gum tissue, and is reversible if treated promptly, while periodontitis includes destruction of bone tissue below the gum line. With proper treatment, however, it can be maintained.

What causes it?

Many factors can contribute to the development of periodontal disease, such as plaque, tartar, heredity, diet, systemic conditions, and oral hygiene habits. One of the goals of our non-surgical treatment is to determine which of these factors are most important in your mouth, and how to control their effects. Your gum treatment program will be specially customized to fit particular needs present in your mouth.

How do we treat it?

There are two ways to treat periodontal (gum) disease: surgically and non-surgically. A large majority of patients can be adequately treated non-surgically, if the disease is discovered and treated before it becomes too advanced. Because the only type of treatment performed at Timothy P. Sulken, D.D.S. is the non-surgical variety, the following information will deal exclusively with our approach to non-surgical periodontal treatment.

Your non-surgical gum treatment program will consist of two types of appointments: active therapy appointments and a recare appointment.

Active therapy appointments consist of measuring the gums to determine the extent of the disease, scaling and root planing of the teeth to promote healing, irrigation to fight unwanted bacteria, and home care instruction to equip you to restore and maintain health.

The recare appointment is an opportunity to measure the amount of improvement obtained, evaluate any problem areas that remain, and discuss the best possible options for maintaining periodontal health in the years to come.

Home Care is an indispensable facet of any successful gum treatment. Our non-surgical gum treatment program is truly a team effort. Our job is to get your teeth clean and free of harmful bacteria. Your job is to maintain that state of cleanliness as thoroughly as possible, and to allow us to periodically remove any plaque or calculus you miss, which will be accomplished at your recare appointments.

There are a wide variety of home care aids available to help you in cleaning your teeth. For you to attempt to use them all would be impractical. Therefore, as treatment progresses we will make specific recommendations concerning which home care aids should give you the best results. You will also receive instruction on proper ways to use these various devices.

Plaque is a white soft film consisting of bacteria and food particles which accumulates on the teeth near the gum line and in between the teeth. Proper brushing and flossing can keep plaque build-up to a minimum.

Tartar (calculus) is mineralized plaque. It cannot be removed by a toothbrush or floss, and normally requires the expertise of a dental hygienist for removal.

Pocket Depth is the small space in between each tooth and the gum tissue surrounding it. In a healthy mouth this space is usually 1-3 millimeters deep. In general, the deeper the pockets, the more advanced is the gum disease, and the harder it is to keep the teeth clean. A primary goal of our non-surgical gum treatment program is to shrink these pockets to a depth which can be more easily kept clean in the future.

Bone Loss causes loosening of the teeth which occurs in advanced periodontal disease and is a direct result of the loss of the bone tissue which surrounds the teeth. The best ways to diagnose the amount of bone that has been lost is through the use of x-rays and probing the pocket depths.

Root Planning is the cleaning and smoothing of the roots of the teeth. There are two major purposes for this procedure– to remove harmful plaque and calculus deposits, and to make the roots of your teeth smooth so that they will be easier to keep clean in the future.