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My teeth are fine, but my gums are a mess. It’s kind of an old joke that’s not very funny. Each year thousands of people lose teeth to gum disease. The disease doesn’t mean the teeth themselves are bad, but once gums go bad, the teeth are next to fall.

Periodontal therapy is a conservative or non-surgical treatment for gum disease. Its goal is to control and manage periodontal diseases without the need for surgery. Ultimately, it helps restore optimal gum health, which, in turn, helps keep tooth loss at bay.

Periodontal therapy is often the first line of treatment for slight periodontitis. It’s at this stage of gum disease wherein a patient has at least one tooth with 3 mm of gum attachment loss. About 9% of people with periodontal disease are at this stage. Therapy is most effective in the treatment of moderate chronic periodontitis.

In most cases, dentists can diagnose periodontitis through an in-depth physical examination. A periodontal probe helps them determine if there’s any loss of gum attachment. If there is, this tool also lets them measure the size or degree of the lost gums. Your dentist can also use an intraoral camera to show you the inside of your mouth. This can help you see the state of your teeth and gums.

Types of Periodontal Therapy

As a first step in diagnosing, periodontal dentists will take a complete set of digital x-rays. After that, they will determine the type of treatment likely to be most effective.

  • Plaque and tartar can build up on the surfaces of the teeth below the gum line. This accumulation occurs as the gums recede (move away) from the teeth. Note that in receded gums, pockets form, and they allow plaque and bacteria to enter. Scaling, also known as “deep cleaning,” eliminates these hidden build-ups. Your dentist can use hand tools or ultrasonic cleaners to remove plaque and tartar. Ultrasonic cleaning devices allow for the faster breakdown of hardened dental calculus and are painless.
  • Root Planing. This involves smoothing out rough spots that affect the tooth root. By removing the roughened areas, the dentist gets rid of bacteria hiding in these crevices. In addition, scaling ensures that the gums have a clean surface to reattach to. And a combination of scaling and root planing is sometimes used together when the buildup is significant.
  • In many cases, dentists prescribe medications including antibiotic gels and antimicrobial mouth rinse as part of the therapy. These meds reduce bacterial counts, ease swollen gums, and promote healing.

The Big Question: Does it Hurt?

By its nature, gum infection is not a pleasant disease. Depending on the severity, its treatment may be invasive. If you have worries about the pain, don’t hesitate to let your dentist know before the procedure. Dentists will regularly apply a fast-acting local anesthetic beforehand. If you are feeling anxious about the pain, you can request a general anesthetic and wake up when it’s done.

Cost of Periodontal Therapy

Depending on the severity of the condition, therapy can be quite costly. The good news is that most dental insurance covers it. If it must come from your pocket, ask your dentist about no-interest payment plans.

If root scaling and planning are not effective, surgery may be needed for pocket reduction and bone grafting. Periodontal therapy is usually somewhere around $1000 – $1500. If surgery is necessary, costs can run as high as $8000.

The Douglas Family Dentistry Experience

If you value your teeth, never put off periodontal treatment. Periodontal disease is the single most given cause of tooth loss. If you suspect you have gum problems, don’t put off a visit. Early treatment of gum disease is the key to dental health.

If you live in Phoenix, Scottsdale, or the surrounding communities, Douglas Family Dentistry offers a friendly, professional environment for patients from kids to adults and seniors. Call us at 480-948-3680 or go to our website to schedule an appointment.