What is Periodontal Surgery and what are the procedures?
Periodontal surgery is necessary when your periodontist determines that the tissue around your teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with non-surgical treatment. Following are the four types of surgical treatments most commonly prescribed:
- Pocket Reduction Procedures
- Regenerative Procedures
- Crown Lengthening
- Soft Tissue Grafts
The human mouth is a veritable breeding ground for bacteria. In fact, there are 22 types of bacteria in the mouth at any given time. Plaque, that sticky film on your teeth that you wake up with every morning, is formed by harmful bacteria in your mouth. If it is not removed by brushing and flossing, it will harden and become tartar. Once tartar forms in your mouth, the periodontal disease known as gingivitis is just around the corner. Bacteria multiply quickly behind tartar and produce toxins that inflame and redden gums. If not treated, the bacteria will spread below the gum line and the periodontal disease known as periodontitis is inevitable. Given enough time and damage, only periodontal surgery will be able to treat the condition and save your teeth.
Once bacteria spread below the gum line, the toxins they produce will begin to literally dissolve supporting tissue and bone. Pockets will form in the spaces created by this degenerative process. Basically, the more tissue and bone that is dissolved, the bigger these pockets become. Bacteria breed faster in these pockets and as they grow, the quicker the pace of degeneration. If periodontal surgery is not performed to reduce these pockets, the teeth will loosen and eventually fall out. Pocket reduction is a form of periodontal surgery that seeks to stop the degenerative cycle.
Pocket reduction is a periodontal surgery procedure where the dentist first holds back the gums and eliminates the bacteria. Generally, painful scraping will be required to remove the ossification (tartar) on the tooth or root. If the root is damaged or not smooth, the dentist will have to plane the root and remove even more root in order to smooth it back out (the gums will not reattach to uneven or rough surfaces). Once finished, the last part of this periodontal procedure generally involves an antimicrobial treatment to eliminate any remaining bacteria. In most cases, no further periodontal surgery is required and good oral hygiene should be enough to prevent the gum disease from returning.
In cases where the root and supporting bone structure has been too severely damaged for pocket reduction, the periodontal surgery option of regeneration may be required. As the name implies, the purpose of this procedure is to regenerate damaged bone and supporting tissue (gums). When performing this form of periodontal surgery, a dentist will perform a bone graft first and then follow it up with treatments of tissue-stimulating proteins. If successful, the gums will be able to reattach to the bone.
Another periodontal surgery option is a soft tissue graft. This procedure is required when the degenerative process has proceeded to the point that the root is exposed due to gum loss. In a soft tissue graft periodontal surgery, tissue is removed from other parts of the mouth such as the palate and then grafted over the exposed root. Of course, before such a periodontal surgery can be performed, the bacteria-causing problem must first be eradicated.