What is gum therapy and why might it help me?

What is gum therapy

Gum Therapy aka a deep cleaning or SRP (scaling and root planing) is the recommended treatment for people who are diagnosed with Periodontal (gum and bone) disease when they come to see us. Gum disease can be seen on x-rays, but more commonly we find it when we’re “perio charting” which we do every year. During perio charting, your hygienist uses a tiny ruler-like instrument to measure the space between each tooth and gum. Spaces ranging from 1-3mm are considered healthy, and 4+mm are unhealthy and there’s likely an infection present.

What makes gum therapy different than a regular cleaning?

Regular cleanings are meant to help prevent gum disease in healthy gums. Gum therapy helps to manage an already-active infection, typically over the course of two visits, sometimes requiring local anesthetic. Your hygienist will clean out those pockets between your teeth and your gums as deep as they go (scaling). In spaces with an in infection, your gum might not be attached to the root surface of your tooth in spots. As your hygienist cleans, they will make the surface of the root smooth (root planing). It’s harder for bacteria to adhere to a smooth surface, and easier for the gum to reattach to a smooth and clean tooth.

Why do I want my gums to reattach to my teeth?

When the spaces between the tooth and the gum are 5mm or greater, it means that bone loss is present. Once we lose bone, we can never grow it back. The good news is we can reduce those pockets back to 3mm or less if we can get the gum to reattach. This will help prevent the progression of bone loss.

What happens after gum therapy?

After you complete gum therapy there are two very important things to think about:

  1. Home care. It’s important that you remove the soft plaque and bacteria frequently at home. We usually recommended a combination of a Sonicare toothbrush, a Waterpik, and either floss or softpiks.
  2. Quarterly gum care. These visits are vital to maintaining gum and bone health. Your hygienist will recheck the health of your gums, treat your gums, and review home care recommendations. Coming back for your recommended follow up steps, this prevents possibly needing gum therapy in the future.

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