Nearly half of American adults have periodontal or gum disease. If you feel you may be one of them, It’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Although gum disease is most often associated with tooth loss, it also contributes to a host of other health issues, from chronic bad breath to increased risk of respiratory disease and cardiac infections. Periodontal treatment is vital to protecting your smile and your well-being, and Penn Dental Medicine is proud to be a leader in delivering quality, effective care for patients of all ages.

Depending on the extent of your gum disease, your periodontist has several treatment options to choose from. Your PDM student dentist will recommend treatment based on the progression of your disease, always with the goal of preserving your teeth and your health the top priority. We understand you have questions, so read on to learn more about what to expect during periodontal treatment at PDM.  

What Does Periodontal Treatment Involve? 

Medical diagram of a dental implant used for periodontal treatment after  bone loss. Treatment for gum disease can be surgical or non-surgical, depending on the extent of the damage. Your PDM student dentist will develop a personalized treatment plan, which you’ll have the opportunity to approve before beginning treatments. 

According to the American Academy of Periodontology guidelines, treatment for gum disease should be as non-invasive as possible. This means that most cases are first treated using non-surgical methods. The most common are:

  • Prescription-strength toothpaste, which is usually the first course of treatment for gingivitis, the earliest stage of periodontal disease. 
  • Scaling and root planing, a more in-depth cleaning that removes plaque and toxins from the tooth surface and roots below the gum line, which encourages the gums to re-adhere to the teeth. This may be done using a laser.
  • Tray delivery systems, which uses custom trays made from impressions to deliver medicine directly to the gums. This is often done after scaling and root planning.

Although non-surgical methods are often effective for treating the early stages of periodontal disease, some patients require ongoing follow-up to maintain the results. More severe or advanced cases, however, need more invasive surgical treatments. These may include:

  • Gum graft surgery, which uses gum tissue from your own palate or a donor to restore gum tissue that has receded due to disease and reduce tooth sensitivity.
  • Regenerative surgery helps restore bones and tissue damaged by gum disease. After removing bacteria and infected tissues, the surgeon may use fillers, tissue-generating proteins, or bone grafts to spur bone regrowth.
  • Pocket reduction, which reduces the amount of space between your teeth and the surrounding gum tissue. After folding back the gum tissue to remove bacteria, the periodontist secures the gum back in place, where it should reattach to the tooth with a smaller “pocket.”
  • Dental implants, which replace teeth that have been lost to decay. Gum disease can cause teeth to fall out, but provided the underlying jaw bone is still healthy and strong enough, a periodontist can replace the lost tooth with an implant. This involves surgically implanting a post into your jawbone, waiting for the surrounding gum tissue to heal, then adding a crown that resembles a real tooth. 

What to Know About Gum Disease Treatment at PDM  

Illustration compares a healthy tooth to one with periodontal disease highlighting inflammation and deep pockets.Upon hearing the news that they need periodontal treatment, many patients are concerned and have questions. Among the most common are “Can teeth be saved with periodontal disease?” and “How painful is periodontal treatment?” 

The short answer to the first question is yes. In many cases, your teeth can be saved with treatment from an expert periodontist, particularly in the early stages. If you notice, for instance, symptoms like:

  • Bad breath. 
  • Bad taste that doesn’t go away. 
  • Bleeding gums when you brush and floss.
  • Sensitive gums. 
  • Red and swollen gums. 

You likely have an early form of gum disease. Talk to your dentist, and make oral hygiene a priority. The faster you treat the problem, the more likely you are to slow its progression. 

Unfortunately, there are cases in which teeth cannot be saved. If the disease has progressed to the point where it’s caused bone loss and extreme tooth decay, the tooth will need to be extracted. Your periodontist will discuss options for replacement, including implants, bridges, and dentures

The answer to the second question, “How painful is periodontal treatment?” is that it depends. PDM student dentists are committed to making patients as comfortable as possible during every visit. During many periodontal procedures, the student dentists use a variety of anesthetics and analgesics, including nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and conscious sedation techniques, to reduce pain and anxiety during the treatment. 

After Care with PDM 

Dentists in full personal protective equipment (PPE) perform a periodontal procedure on a patient. Reducing discomfort isn’t limited to your time in treatment care. When you leave PDM after treatment for periodontal disease, you can expect thorough aftercare instructions and recommendations for pain relief. This may include prescription medication. 

All patients are also scheduled for a follow-up, to check on healing and discuss the next steps in the treatment plan. 

Learn More About Periodontal Care at PDM 

Gum disease is preventable with proper oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. If you are experiencing symptoms, getting treatment is key to recovery and preserving your teeth and periodontal health

PDM understands that making sense of periodontal disease and periodontal treatment options can feel overwhelming. To help guide you from evaluation to treatment and beyond, we’re offering a complimentary PDF download, “Periodontal Basics: Treatments for Periodontal Disease.”  This informative flyer helps you make an informed decision about your gum care and answers many of the questions you may have. 

You can also make a periodontics appointment by calling 215-898-8965 or using the online appointment request tool.