If you've been experiencing gum problems, your dentist may recommend non-surgical gum therapy to address the issue.
There are different treatments; your treatment will depend on the extent and severity of your gum disease.
What Is Non-Surgical Gum Therapy?
Non-surgical gum therapy, also known as scaling and root planing or deep cleaning, is a non-invasive approach to treating gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. These therapies aim to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria, to stop the progression of gum disease, which can lead to gum recession, bone loss, and other oral health concerns.
A key goal of these therapies is to treat gums early enough so that surgeries such as gum grafts are not necessary.
Non-Surgical Gum Therapies
Scaling, root planing, and antibiotics are common non-surgical options for treatment that you can expect if you have gum disease.
Scaling is the process of removing plaque and tartar deposits from the tooth surfaces, both above and below the gumline. This procedure is typically performed with specific dental instruments and ultrasonic scalers.
Root planing smoothes the root surfaces of teeth, getting rid of rough tartar that allows bacteria to easily accumulate. This procedure helps the gums reattach to the teeth and reduces the risk of reinfection.
Some over-the-counter and prescription mouthwashes or gels containing antimicrobial agents may be used for gum disease treatment. In rare cases, oral antibiotics may be prescribed to control bacterial infections associated with gum disease.
There are various complementary treatments that may also help. An orthodontic treatment, such as braces or Invisalign to straighten misaligned teeth may be recommended to help improve gum health by making it easier to clean between teeth. Dental appliances like splints, mouthguards, or night guards may be recommended to address issues such as teeth grinding, which can impact gum health.
Nutritional counseling may be provided to offer guidance on dietary choices that support gum health. Additionally, managing underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or immune disorders, is important for improving gum health, as these conditions can be linked to gum problems.
What Do Non-Surgical Gum Therapies Do?
Non-surgical gum therapies treat gum diseases. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, characterized by inflamed and bleeding gums. Non-surgical therapies can effectively treat gingivitis by removing plaque and tartar buildup. At this stage, the gum disease can be reversed, so non-surgical treatments can fully treat the condition. You should be aware that it can come back, however.
Periodontitis is a more advanced form of gum disease, where infection has spread deeper into the supporting structures of the teeth. Non-surgical gum therapy can help manage and control the progression of periodontitis. At this stage, the condition can't be reversed, only managed and the progression halted.
Topical and oral antibiotics treat the bacterial infection component, while scaling and root planing
As gum tissue starts to recede and detach from teeth, it creates a gap between the tooth and gums, known as a pocket, which provides a home for bacteria. Scaling and root planing provides a thorough cleansing under and around these pockets, eliminating plaque and bacteria and allowing the gum tissue to reattach to the tooth surfaces.
Benefits of Non-Surgical Gum Therapies
Healthy gums are an important part of oral health, and these treatments help restore gum health or manage conditions, reducing your risks of cavities, bad breath, loose teeth that may fall out, bone loss, and other concerns.
Gum disease has been linked to various systemic health issues, including heart disease and diabetes. Treating gum disease can help reduce the risk of these health problems.
What to Expect During a Non-Surgical Gum Therapy Appointment
After an assessment and diagnosis of your gum condition, which usually involves a physical examination, measurement of gum pockets, x-rays and other diagnostics, your dentist will consult with you. The extent and severity of your gum disease and recommended gum therapy will be discussed.
Anaesthetic and Sedation
Depending on the severity of your gum disease and your comfort level, your dentist may administer a local anesthetic to numb the area before starting the procedure. This ensures that you feel minimal discomfort during the therapy. In some cases, your dentist may offer sedation to make the process more comfortable.
Your dentist or dental hygienist will use dental instruments such as ultrasonic scalers or hand scalers to remove plaque and tartar from the surfaces of your teeth, both above and below the gum line. This process may take some time, depending on the extent of your buildup.
After scaling, root planing will be performed to carefully scrape tartar off and smooth the root surfaces of your teeth. This helps the gums reattach to the teeth and prevents further bacterial buildup.
Scaling and root planing typically takes about one or two hours, as it is detailed work. If the buildup of tartar is very severe, your oral cleaning may be split into two appointments, with one half of your mouth cleaned during the first visit and the remaining half addressed during a subsequent appointment.
Many dental insurance plans cover scaling and root planing. Your dental office may coordinate your coverage for you, to make the process easier.
Your dentist may recommend additional appointments for follow-up care and to monitor your progress and ensure that your gums are healing properly. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing and flossing will help prevent future issues. Your dentist or dental hygienist will provide guidance on how to care for your gums after the procedure. If you smoke or have other risk factors for gum disease, your dentist may advise making lifestyle changes to reduce these risks.
Regular dental check-ups are essential to catch gum disease in the earliest stages to prevent more significant issues. At Toronto Smile Centre, we offer professional cleanings, including scaling and root planing for our patients who need extra care for gums. Sedation is available for patients, so our patients can feel more comfortable throughout the process, as well.