Flap Surgery. Surgery might be necessary if inflammation and deep pockets remain following treatment with deep cleaning and medications. A periodontist may perform flap surgery to remove tartar deposits in deep pockets or to reduce the periodontal pocket and make it easier for the patient, dentist, and hygienist to keep the area clean. This common surgery involves lifting back the gums and removing the tartar. The gums are then sutured back in place so that the tissue fits snugly around the tooth again.
Bone and Tissue Grafts. In addition to flap surgery, your periodontist may suggest bone or tissue grafts. Grafting is a way to replace or encourage new growth of bone or gum tissue destroyed by periodontitis. A technique that can be used with bone grafting is called guided tissue regeneration, in which a small piece of mesh-like fabric is inserted between the bone and gum tissue. This keeps the gum tissue from growing into the area where the bone should be, allowing the bone and connective tissue to regrow.
Since each case is different, it is not possible to predict with certainty which grafts will be successful over the long-term. Treatment results depend on many things, including severity of the disease, ability to maintain oral hygiene at home, and certain risk factors, such as smoking, which may lower the chances of success. Ask your periodontist what the level of success might be in your particular case.
Getting a Second Opinion About Treatment
When considering any extensive dental or medical treatment options, you should think about getting a second opinion. To find a dentist or periodontist for a second opinion, call your local dental society. They can provide you with names of practitioners in your area. Additionally, dental schools may sometimes be able to offer a second opinion. Call the dental school in your area to find out whether it offers this service.
Can periodontal disease cause health problems beyond the mouth?
Maybe. But so far the research is inconclusive. Studies are ongoing to try to determine whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between periodontal disease and:
• an increased risk of heart attack or stroke,
• an increased risk of delivering preterm, low birth weight babies,
• difficulty controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
In the meantime, it's a fact that controlling periodontal disease can save your teeth -- a very good reason to take care of your teeth and gums.
Clinical trials are research studies of new and promising ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat disease. If you want to take part in a clinical trial about periodontal disease visit http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/. In the box under "Search Clinical Trials", type in: periodontal diseases. This will give you a list of clinical trials on gum disease for which you might be eligible.
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Ten years ago, I sat in my Primary Care Physician's office. I had just been weighed and measured. A nurse had just taken my vitals and my blood pressure had come in a bit higher than usual, which was no wonder because I sat there a nervous wreck. In the year since my last physical, I'd gained another fourteen pounds. I was the heaviest I'd ever been, the scale clocking me in at 228 at 5'3" tall. I honestly couldn't believe it. I knew that I hadn't gotten my eating habits under control in...