Periodontics is a highly specialized area of dentistry that treats the area “around” a tooth, including gum tissue, bone, and supporting ligaments. Most common periodontal procedures consist of scaling and root planing (“deep cleaning”), crown lengthening, and gum grafts.
Periodontal disease is becoming more common and it is estimated that 60-80% of all adults in the United States have some form of gum disease. It has been well established within the last decade there is a direct correlation between the bacteria associated with gum disease and cardiovascular disease, making it more important than ever to seek treatment.
Crown Lengthening for Tooth Restoration
When a tooth breaks or if there is severe decay, we have to rely on the remaining tooth structure to support the necessary crown. If the decay or fracture is deep and far below the gum line, it is necessary to perform a periodontal procedure called crown lengthening to expose more tooth structure to provide a more stable foundation for the crown.
Your gums need at least 2mm of tooth surface area to bond with in order to prevent trapped foods and other potential problems. If part of a tooth is missing or if the decay is too deep, there might not be enough of a crown to work with. In situations like this, crown lengthening is used to recreate the required amount of exposed tooth so that restorative dental procedures will not weaken or fall off.
Gum Grafts to Correct Exposed Tooth Roots
Exposed tooth roots resulting from gum recession occur by several means, most commonly either as a function of age or trauma from the toothbrush. Perhaps you wish to enhance your smile by covering one or more of these roots that make your teeth appear too long. Alternatively, you may not be bothered by the appearance of these areas but you cringe because the exposed roots are sensitive to hot or cold foods and liquids. Regardless of the reason for the exposed root surface, a soft tissue graft procedure will repair the defect and help to prevent additional recession and bone loss.
Pocket Reduction Surgery
In the presence of periodontal disease, gum tissue and bone are destroyed by the associated bacteria forming “pockets” around the teeth. Over time, these pockets become deeper, providing a larger space for bacteria to live. As bacteria develop around the teeth, they can accumulate and advance under the gum tissue. These deep pockets collect even more bacteria, resulting in further bone and tissue loss.
Eventually, if too much bone is lost, you will need a tooth extraction.
A periodontal procedure known as pocket reduction surgery may be recommended to reduce pockets that are too deep to clean with daily at-home oral hygiene and a professional cleaning routine. During a pocket reduction surgery, the gum tissue is gently moved away from your teeth and the disease-causing bacteria are removed and the area disinfected before securing the tissue into place with small micro-sutures. In some cases, irregular surfaces of the damaged bone are smoothed to limit areas where disease-causing bacteria can hide. This allows the gum tissue to better reattach to healthy bone.