Non-surgical periodontal therapy is a really important and fantastic way to treat one of the two main diseases that dentists treat. Dentists treat gum disease and tooth decay. Most of the time I think patients think if they have a tooth ache or if something is wrong with a tooth, there will be a black spot and kind of neglect the gums. Oftentimes I think dentists do this as well. At Concierge Dental Group, we want to be sure that both the teeth and the gums are very healthy. You come in for dental cleanings and things, and your hygienist is taking care of your gum or gingival health. We call gums gingiva. When the gums get inflamed, the first phase is gingivitis, inflammation of the gingiva, or inflammation of the gums. If they stay inflamed for a long amount of time, it allows for bacteria to form in those pockets of inflammation. A pocket is created by inflamed gums butted up against a tooth, and those are too deep for toothbrush bristles to get in underneath and clean. The bacteria builds up, and some bacteria can create this acid that actually eats away at the bone itself. So not only do you have gum inflammation (gingivitis), but you also have bone loss, which is periodontal disease.
What do we do when we have a diagnosis of periodontal disease?
We have to clean the bacteria first. That’s the most important thing. The bacteria that causes periodontal disease is all over your mouth. Once you have it, it all has to be cleaned out mechanically. We call that mechanical debridement. Once the gums are so inflamed and the pockets are so deep, this is no longer a normal cleaning or dental profile or dental prophylaxis. You may have heard it in those different terms. This is a deep cleaning for all intents and purposes. Going deep into the gums could bother the patient- that could hurt. So, we use anesthetic throughout. First, we’ll do a measurement around the mouth and evaluate the current status of the pocket depths. That’s really important so that we can track our progress over time, because we really want to shrink those down. The more we shrink them down and keep those pocket depths to a minimum, the healthier your gums will be, the less bacteria that will accumulate there and the less you’ll have. This chronic condition of active gum disease, that’s what we want to eliminate is the active nature of the gum disease. So non-surgical periodontal therapy includes the measurements, the mechanical debridement or cleaning around every tooth throughout the mouth, and also the application of antibiotic agents around the area. Sometimes we’ll even use lasers to bribe some really heavily swollen gum tissue. All this is done with local anesthetic, and it’s done in a non-surgical way so there’s really no cutting of the gums. There are no stitches. There’s no soft tissue grafting of any kind. All of these things would be surgical periodontal therapy.
Non-surgical periodontal therapy can help 90%+ of patients with periodontal disease. We don’t have to go to a surgical mitigation or surgical curing of the disease itself. We just do this non surgically. This is done with oversight of the dentist but usually done by our hygienists in our offices.