Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that penetrates into the gums and into the bone around your teeth, causing inflammation. Periodontal inflammation leads to bone loss and possibly tooth loss and may contribute to other medical conditions.

The periodontal infection must be removed and the area given a chance to heal. There are generally two levels of treatment for this condition depending upon the severity of your infection.

Scaling and Root Planing

The upper level of infection in the pockets around your teeth can be removed using specialized instruments. This procedure is called, “Scaling and Root Planing", “Phase One Treatment" or “Initial Therapy". It is often done under local anesthesia and is quite different from the routine dental cleaning that is traditionally done in the general dentist's office.

Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling: The periodontist first removes the upper level of infected calculus. Root Planing: Next, the roots are smoothed so that it will be hard for new calculus to come back.

Surgical Therapy

If your infection has spread into the bone that supports your teeth, and is below the level that can be reached in "Upper Level Infection Removal", then a surgical procedure must be performed to retract the gums and remove the lower level infection.

When periodontal disease reaches this lower level it is called periodontitis. The bone around the teeth actually dissolves which is seen on X-rays as bone loss. This lower level infection is treated with flap surgery or osseous surgery and the damaged area is often repaired with bone grafting. Click here for more information on these procedures.

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