Gum disease can be a pretty scary issue. We know that none of you especially like to see those pictures at the dentist's office, and certainly no one wants to think about having to deal with it personally. However, the reality is that gum disease is the leading cause of permanent tooth loss, and it's far more common than you might think. The good news is that most gum disease is completely preventable, and that prevention starts right here at Coastline Dental.
Good overall oral health care is essential, and for your gums, regular dental visits and cleanings help prevent further issues. The problem comes when you start skipping those regular appointments. The plaque and hardened deposits (tartar) that should be regularly professionally cleaned by our dental hygienists start to build up, and that build up leads to inflammation in the gum tissue, which in turn leads to infection. If that inflammation and infection continues to go untreated, a host of problems can arise as the gum tissue begins to deteriorate. Pain, swelling, and tooth loss are just a part of it. Prevention is key!
However, for our patients who are already dealing with the effects of gum disease, we are committed to providing you with compassionate and comprehensive care. We perform a range of periodontic services for our patients, all aimed at helping you deal with the pain and discomfort of gum disease while also battling its effects.
Scaling is the process of removing plaque and tartar from the teeth, normally performed at every routine teeth cleaning. Periodontic scaling is performed on a deeper level, in order to remove the deposits from beneath the gum line, along with any compromised gum tissue. Sometimes that scaling has to continue right down to the root of the tooth, which is known as root planing. These are our first weapons in our battle against gum disease, as removing those deposits and unhealthy tissues are essential to providing a clean slate for healing and fighting infection.
Though we always try our best to minimize permanent tooth loss, it's sometimes necessary to extract teeth when dealing with gum disease. If a tooth is too loosened or damaged, it may be in your best interests to have it extracted in order to provide a healthier environment for the rest of your teeth and gums. When this becomes necessary, we perform the extraction with skill and care.
When a tooth is lost or extracted, there's a resulting hole in the alveolar ridge – the area of the jawbone where it once sat. Over time, this gap can lead to bone loss in the area, which can result in a “sunken” look in the mouth or even compromise the health of neighbouring teeth. Ridge/socket preservation prevents this from happening, by filling in the hole with dental materials. Not only does this prevent collapse of the neighbouring bone, it also preserves the health of the original socket, so that you can be a better candidate for tooth replacement, in the form of dental implants, later.
Your sinuses sit behind your cheeks, on top of your upper teeth. Sinuses, as anyone will know who has ever felt them blocked by a cold, are empty spaces, normally filled only with air. However, some of the roots of our upper teeth extend into that sinus space, and if those upper teeth are lost or removed, only a thin piece of bone is left to separate the sinuses from the mouth. In order to be a candidate for dental implants, there must be enough bone to hold the rods securely in place. If the jawbone isn't of sufficient quality, the implant could fail.
If bone loss has occurred due to injury or periodontal disease, a sinus augmentation procedure can lift up the floor of the sinuses and make room for new bone to form or be grafted into place. Sinus augmentation is commonly done in these situations, and provides the right circumstances for permanent dental implants after tooth loss.
In conjunction with sinus augmentation and ridge/socket preservation, bone grafts are performed when the jawbone, after tooth loss, does not possess the quality or quantity of bone for dental implants. Bone grafting provides replacement bone, either by harvesting it from the patient or by other methods, and builds up the area for a stronger root placement.
For receding gums, we may recommend a gum grafting procedure. Also known as a gingival graft, gum grafting takes tissue from the roof of the mouth and grafts it via sutures to the area of the mouth experiencing gum loss, essentially shoring up the weakened tissue. The gum grafting prevents further gum recession and also covers the root area of the tooth that may have been exposed.
When gum disease has affected your gum tissue, you may have deep pockets around the tooth that are inaccessible to the normal tools we use to remove plaque and tartar. Removing those deposits is essential, so we sometimes perform a pocket reduction surgery. A flap is opened up in the gumline to allow us access to the deep pocket, root, and bone. The gum is then sutured into place, and, once healed, is in a new position that has eliminated or greatly reduced the pocket.
Much like pocket reduction, flap procedures involve opening a flap in the gum tissue in order to perform deep cleaning as far down the tooth as necessary. Once completed, the flap is replaced and sutured, leaving a healthier gum tissue.
A frenum is a small piece of tissue connecting the lip to the gum. For some people, this tissue is too thick or attached in a difficult spot, restricting lip movement or lead to receding gums. The answer is a frenectomy, a simple procedure that trims the frenum and can also move it away from the affected area, releasing the tension and allowing for healing.
Common and versatile, the crown lengthening procedure is performed for several different reasons. Generally, it's used to improve the health of the gum tissue, or to correct a “gummy” smile. By removing or reshaping the gum tissue, crown lengthening exposes more of the tooth. This can be useful for cosmetic purposes, tooth restoration, crowns, and more.
Help yourself and your family to fight gum disease by making certain to keep all your regular routine and preventative care appointments. And if you're already battling gum disease, don't worry – you've got an ally in your corner with the caring team at Coastline Dental.