I recently found out that I have gum disease. I guess it’s pretty advanced from what my dentist said. She’s sending me to a periodontist who she says has all the latest equipment and practices with a gentle touch. I’m worried, not so much by the diagnosis or the immediate treatment, but by what she said about periodontal disease not being curable. She kind of explained what she meant, but I’m wondering if you can clear this up for me. I’ll be able to keep my teeth, won’t I?
Richard S. in Tennessee
It is true that periodontal disease is never really cured, but it is possible to control it and prevent further damage to the teeth and their supporting structures with regular periodontal cleanings and maintenance.
It sounds like your dentist has referred you to a good periodontist where your gum disease can be fully diagnosed and treated. What she may have been referring to in terms of advanced technology is the perioscope. This is an instrument that will enable the periodontist to see below the gumline to evaluate exactly how much damage has occurred and to plan for a full cleaning. It makes diagnosis and treatment much easier on the patient that it ever was in the past, so you can hopefully rest easy there. Take a look at the illustration to the right, and you’ll see how much of the tarter, plaque, and damage in periodontal disease happens below the gum line. This is where the cleanings will also take place.
Depending on how advanced your gum disease is, it may take one or several cleanings to completely remove all the bacteria, plaque, and tartar to give you a fresh start. And here is the good news. If you don’t lose any teeth with this initial treatment, you can keep them. But you’ll have to adjust to a new kind of normal. Instead of going to see the dentist every six months, you’ll need to follow a very strict protocol at home and have regular cleanings by a highly trained hygienist four times a year.
If you would like to find out more about what your initial treatment may involve, click here to read Pumphrey Periodontics’ Non-Surgical Gum Treatment page.
Good luck to you in restoring your full dental health.
This Blog is brought to you by Dr. David Pumphrey of Pumphrey Periodontics in Atlanta.