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Periodontal Treatments in
Washington, DC

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is an infection just below the gum line that attacks and breaks down the tissues that support your teeth. As a result of this, the affected gum area develops pockets (spaces between the gums and teeth), and the depth of these pockets increases with the severity of the disease.

There are two major stages for periodontal disease – gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder and reversible form that only affects the gums. However, if it isn’t treated, it can develop into the more serious and destructive form of periodontal disease called periodontitis.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

A person receiving periodontal treatment in Washington, DCThere are several causes as well as risk factors for periodontal disease. The major culprits are:

  • Smoking is a significant risk factor for the development of periodontitis. It can also lower the chances of success for some treatments.
  • Physiological conditions such as pregnancy and puberty make the gums more sensitive, and therefore it’s easier for gingivitis to develop.
  • Diabetes causes a higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal disease.
  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants and some heart medicines, can affect oral health because they lessen the flow of saliva. This in turn deprives gums and teeth of the natural protective effects of saliva.
  • Certain diseases like cancer and AIDS and their treatments can affect the health of the gums.
  • Research indicates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infections, including periodontal disease.
  • Some people are genetically predisposed to suffer periodontal disease.

Your Treatment Options for Periodontal Disease

Closeup of teeth during gum disease treatment

  • Gingivitis: Gingivitis is generally noticed when gums become red or swollen and bleed while brushing. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and consistent home oral care.
  • Periodontitis: There are several ways to treat periodontitis depending on its severity. The goal of periodontitis treatment is to thoroughly clean the pockets of bacteria and prevent further damage. If you are diagnosed with periodontitis, your dentist at Dlight Dental will develop the treatment plan that is right for you.

Non-surgical treatments

Hand pointing to dental x-rays

  • Scaling: Scaling removes plaque, tartar, and bacteria from your tooth surfaces and from below the gums. It may be performed using instruments or an ultrasonic device.
  • Root planing: Root planing is used to smooth the root surfaces of the teeth and minimize the further buildup of tartar.

Antibiotic Therapy

White ointment tube Sometimes, oral antibiotics may be necessary to completely eliminate infection-causing bacteria. We use Arestin topical antibiotics to reduce the numbers of acidic plaque producing bacteria that may lead to or worsen gum disease. We may place this topical treatment during a dental cleaning, following scaling and root planing, or prior to more advanced surgical treatments to prevent the spread of infection.

Learn More about Arestin Antibiotic Therapy

Surgical treatments

Woman with healthy beautiful smile Your dentist will recommend surgical treatment if your periodontitis is severe. The common surgical treatment options include:

  • Flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery): In this procedure, tiny incisions are made in your gums so a section of soft tissue can be lifted back to expose the roots for better scaling and planing. If there is bone loss associated with your periodontitis, the underlying bone may be recontoured before suturing the gum tissue back in place. This procedure generally takes from one to three hours and is performed under local anesthesia.
  • Soft tissue grafts: Periodontal disease can cause the gum line to recede, making your teeth appear longer than normal. If this occurs, the damaged tissue may need to be replaced. Generally, this is done by removing a small amount of tissue from the roof of your mouth (palate) and attaching it to the affected site. This treatment can help reduce further gum recession. It will also cover exposed roots, and it will give your teeth a more esthetically pleasing appearance.
  • Bone grafting: This treatment is done when periodontitis has destroyed the bone surrounding your tooth root. It will involve taking a small piece of bone from somewhere else in your body or a bone grafting material and applying it around a tooth to help rebuild the lost support.