Gum disease, the infection of the hard and soft oral structures that hold teeth in place, exists on a range of severity for individual patients. Dr. Singletary implements differing treatment protocols based upon the varying stages of gum disease that patients present.
Moderate Gum Disease
Oral health professionals measure gum disease stages by taking probing depths. Bacteria found in plaque destroy gingiva (gum tissue), creating a separation between teeth and gums. Probing depths measure this space, called the “pocket depth,” between the teeth and the gums. The greater the pocket depth, the further the progression of periodontal disease.
Healthy gums have pocket depths of only zero to three millimeters. Individuals with healthy gums are capable of physically removing the plaque themselves without periodontal therapy. However, pocket depths of three to five millimeters indicate mild gum disease. At this stage, bacteria becomes trapped in the pockets and cannot be removed without in-office treatment. If not removed, the bacteria will calcify below the gum line and quicken the progression of the disease.
In-office treatment involves periodontal therapy, namely, scaling and root planing treatment. This procedure removes the bacteria that has accumulated underneath the gum line where individuals are unable to physically remove the bacteria on their own.
Following scaling and root planing, Dr. Singletary may recommend periodontal maintenance appointments to protect your gum health over time. Of course, patients must also be fastidious in taking care of their teeth and gums at home between visits.
Severe gum disease
Pocket depths greater than five millimeters indicate periodontal disease that has become severe. Although scaling and root planing effectively treats periodontal pockets between three to five millimeters, scaling and root planing may not be as effective on deeper pocket depths. Therefore, more involved therapeutic intervention is required to treat periodontal pockets of more than five millimeters.
At this point, Dr. Singletary uses minimally-invasive procedures to detoxify the tooth roots. By the time periodontal disease has progressed to an advanced stage, calculus, a calcified cell wall of bacteria, has crystalized to the tooth roots and cannot be removed without minimally invasive procedures. These include laser-assisted regeneration therapy, bone grafting, barriers, and the use of biomaterial.
Left untreated, periodontal disease can become so advanced that the functions of biting and eating are compromised. Then surgical extraction and bone grafting may be necessary. However, Dr. Singletary performs extractions only after he has exhausted all other viable options to save the tooth. After extraction, dental implants may be placed. Dr. Singletary, having placed over 3,000 implants in his career, brings his expertise to bear in helping patients achieve oral health and stability.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have periodontal disease, give us a call at (919) 518-8222. We are here to help!