The Academy of General Dentistry recommends checkups twice a year. Oral hygiene needs change with age and the condition of your teeth and gums. Your dentist may recommend a checkup schedule that is more or less frequent than twice a year. Routine dental checkups are vital to good oral hygiene and are the best way to detect problems at their earliest stages. Early detection and treatment saves unnecessary discomfort, time and money.
Non-surgical periodontal treatment does have its limitations. When it does not achieve periodontal health, surgery may be indicated to restore periodontal health.
A regular cleaning is a prophylaxis. It is the removal of coronal plaque, calculus, and stains from the tooth structures. This deposit removal is performed on tooth structures that have not been affected by bone loss, periodontal disease or infection. A regular cleaning is recommended for persons who do not have dense deposits. Scaling can be carried out by ultrasonic scalers and/or traditional hand instruments. Polishing is done with a rubber polishing “cup,” “prophy” paste and a motorized instrument that removes bacterial plaque and surface stains at the end of the appointment leaving your teeth shiny and smooth.
A debridement is recommended for persons who do have dense deposits. It is described by the ADA as the removal of heavy plaque and calculus that interferes with the ability of the dentist to perform a comprehensive oral evaluation, a preliminary procedure that does not rule out the need for additional procedures. Simply put, a debridement is necessary when dense plaque or calculus is present. Dental instruments and electric devices may be used, but the amount of time needed to complete the procedure, as well as the difficulty and extent of the procedure, are different from a regular cleaning.
SCALING AND ROOT PLANING
Scaling and root planing is a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus [tartar] from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins. Scaling and root planing is sometimes followed by adjunctive therapy such as local delivery antimicrobials, systemic antibiotics, and host modulation, as needed on a case-by-case basis. Most periodontists would agree that after scaling and root planing, many patients do not require any further active treatment. However, the majority of patients will require ongoing maintenance therapy to sustain health
GUM GRAFT SURGERY
Exposed tooth roots are the result of gum recession. Gum graft surgery will repair the defect and help to prevent additional recession and bone loss. Gum grafts can be used to cover roots or develop gum tissue where absent due to excessive gingival recession. During gum graft surgery, your periodontist takes gum tissue from your palate or another donor source to cover the exposed root. This can be done for one tooth or several teeth to even your gum line and reduce sensitivity. A gum graft can reduce further recession and bone loss. In some cases, it can cover exposed roots to protect them from decay. This may reduce tooth sensitivity and improve esthetics of your smile. Whether you have a gum graft to improve function or esthetics, patients often receive the benefits of both: a beautiful new smile and improved periodontal health – your keys to smiling, eating and speaking with comfort and confidence
DENTAL CROWN LENGTHENING PROCEDURE
Your teeth may actually be the proper lengths, but they’re covered with too much gum tissue. To correct this, your dentist performs a dental crown lengthening procedure. During the dental crown lengthening procedure, excess gum and bone tissue is reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. This can be done to one tooth, to even your gum line, or to several teeth to expose a natural, broad smile. Your dentist or periodontist may also recommend dental crown lengthening to make a restorative or cosmetic dental procedure possible. Perhaps your tooth is decayed, broken below the gum line, or has insufficient tooth structure for a restoration, such as a crown or bridge. Crown lengthening adjusts the gum and bone level to expose more of the tooth so it can be restored.
PERIODONTAL POCKET REDUCTION PROCEDURES
Your bone and gum tissue should fit snugly around your teeth like a turtleneck around your neck. When you have periodontal disease, this supporting tissue and bone is destroyed, forming “pockets” around the teeth. Over time, these pockets become deeper, providing a larger space for bacteria to live. As bacteria develop around the teeth, they can accumulate and advance under the gum tissue. These deep pockets collect even more bacteria, resulting in further bone and tissue loss. Eventually, if too much bone is lost, the teeth will need to be extracted. Your periodontist has measured the depth of your pocket(s). A periodontal pocket reduction procedure has been recommended because you have pockets that are too deep to clean with daily at-home oral hygiene and a professional care routine. During this procedure, your periodontist folds back the gum tissue and removes the disease-causing bacteria before securing the tissue into place. In some cases, irregular surfaces of the damaged bone are smoothed to limit areas where disease-causing bacteria can hide. This allows the gum tissue to better reattach to healthy bone. Reducing pocket depth and eliminating existing bacteria are important to prevent damage caused by the progression of periodontal disease and to help you maintain a healthy smile. Eliminating bacteria alone may not be sufficient to prevent disease recurrence. Deeper pockets are more difficult for you and your dental care professional to clean, so it’s important for you to reduce them. Reduced pockets and a combination of daily oral hygiene and professional maintenance care increase your chances of keeping your natural teeth – and decrease the chance of serious health problems associated with periodontal disease
Dental implants are an option for tooth loss due to an accident or infection or as an alternative to bridges and dentures. The implants are tooth root substitutes that are surgically anchored in place in the jawbone and act to stabilize the artificial teeth to which they are attached. Suitable candidates for dental implants need to have an adequate bone level and density, must not be prone to infection, and must be willing to maintain good oral hygiene practices. It is a procedure in which a titanium implant is surgically placed in the bone (mandible or maxilla), allowed to heal, and 4–6 months later an artificial tooth is connected to the implant by cement or retained by a screw.
Periodontists are often considered the plastic surgeons of dentistry. If you are looking to improve your smile, a periodontist may be able to help.
Gummy Smile or Uneven Gum Line
Do you feel your teeth look too short and your smile is too gummy or your gums cover too much of some teeth while leaving the others the right length? If so, dental crown lengthening might be the solution for you. During this procedure, excess gum tissue is removed to expose more of the crown of the tooth. Then your gumline is sculpted to give your new smile just the right look.
Long Teeth/Exposed Roots
Sometimes gum recession causes the tooth root to become exposed, which makes your teeth look long and can make you look older than you are. This recession can happen as a result of a variety of causes, including periodontal diseases. Gum graft surgery and other root coverage procedures are designed to cover exposed roots, to reduce further gum recession and to protect vulnerable roots from decay.
Indentations In The Gums And Jawbone
Tooth loss can cause an indentation in the gums and jawbone where the tooth used to be. This happens because the jawbone recedes when it no longer is holding a tooth in place. Not only is this indention unnatural looking, it also causes the replacement tooth to look too long compared to the adjacent teeth. Ridge augmentation can fill in this defect recapturing the natural contour of the gums and jaw. A new tooth can then be created that is natural looking, easy to clean and beautiful.