Also called gum disease therapy, periodontal therapy is focused on caring for the gums and tissues that surround and support the teeth. Gum disease is the most common disease in the U.S., and it’s also the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. Gum disease occurs when bacteria invade the area below the gum line, including the area surrounding the tooth roots. As these bacteria multiply, they release toxins that cause the gums to pull away from the surfaces of the teeth, resulting in receding gums that expose more and more of the lower portions of the teeth. As the gums recede, the bacteria invade the deeper areas around the teeth until they reach the roots. Here, bacteria can cause deep infections that cause tooth roots to loosen and eventual cause the teeth to fall out. About 80% of people in the U.S. have gum disease ranging from mild to severe. Periodontal therapy uses deep-cleaning techniques to remove bacteria below the gum line and around the roots to preserve the health of the teeth and gums and prevent tooth loss.
The bacteria that cause gum disease hide in plaque and hard tartar located near the gum line. In its early stages, gum disease may be treated with regular teeth cleanings to remove the tartar and bacteria. As the disease progresses, deeper cleaning techniques called root planing and scaling are used to remove pockets of bacteria at these deeper levels and to smooth the root surface so it’s harder for bacteria to “cling” to roots. Special antibiotics are also applied during treatment to destroy hard-to-reach bacteria. Other techniques like laser therapy and surgery can also be used to treat infections and restore damaged areas.
Laser treatment uses the focused energy of lasers to reach the deeper areas of the gums where bacteria hide, destroying the bacteria while leaving the surrounding tissue intact so patients experience less bleeding, less tissue damage and faster healing compared to some more aggressive techniques. Laser treatment also promotes reattachment of the gum tissue to the tooth surface, providing a seal that helps protect against future infection.