Mark I Cohen DDS
609 Beaver Ruin Road NW Suite E
Lilburn, GA 30047
(770) 717-5552

What is a Periodontist?


A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the soft tissues of the mouth and the underlying jawbone which supports the teeth.  A dentist must first graduate from an accredited dental school before undertaking an additional three years of study within a periodontology residency training program, in order to qualify as a periodontist.

The primary focus of this residency training is on both surgical and non surgical management of periodontal disease and the placement of dental implants.

Conditions Treated by a Periodontist

The periodontist is mainly concerned with preventing the onset of gum disease (periodontal disease), diagnosing conditions affecting the gums and jawbone, and treating gingivitis, periodontitis and bone loss.  Periodontal disease is a progressive condition and the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world.

The periodontist is able to treat mild, moderate and advanced gum disease by first addressing the bacterial infection at the root of the problem, providing periodontal treatment, then providing information and education on good oral hygiene and the effective cleaning of the teeth.

The most common conditions treated by the periodontist are:

  • Gingivitis – This is the mild inflammation of the gums which may or may not be signified by pain and bleeding.
  • Mild/moderate periodontitis  When the pockets between the teeth and the soft tissues are measured to be between 4-6mm it is classified as moderate periodontitis (gum disease).
  • Advanced periodontitis – When the pockets between the teeth and the soft tissues in general exceed 6mm in depth, significant bone loss may occur; causing shifting or loss of teeth.
  • Missing teeth – When teeth are missing as a result of bone loss, the periodontist can implant prosthetic teeth.  These teeth are anchored to the jawbone and restore functionality to the mouth.


Treatments Performed by a Periodontist

The periodontist is able to perform a wide range of treatments to halt the progression of gum disease, replace missing teeth and make the appearance of the smile more aesthetically pleasing.

Here are some of the treatments commonly performed by the periodontist:

  • Implant placement – When a tooth or several teeth are missing, the periodontist is able to create a natural-looking replacement by anchoring a prosthetic tooth to the jawbone.
  • Osteoplasty (hard tissue recontouring) – Once periodontitis has been treated, the periodontist can recontour the hard tissue to make the smile both natural-looking and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Gingivoplasty (soft tissue recontouring) As gums recede due to periodontitis, the teeth may appear longer; causing a “toothy" smile.  The periodontist can remove tissues or straighten the gum line to make the teeth look more even.
  • Bone grafting – Dental implants can only be positioned if there is sufficient bone to attach the prosthetic tooth to.  If bone loss has occurred, bone grafting is an excellent way to add or “grow” bone so that an implant may be properly secured.
  • Deep pocket cleanings As gingivitis and periodontitis progress, it becomes more difficult to cleanse the pockets between the soft tissues and the teeth.  The periodontist can scale and root plane the teeth (sometimes under local anesthetic) to remove debris and infection-causing bacteria.
  • Crown lengthening – In order to expose more of the natural tooth, the periodontist can remove some of the surrounding gingival tissue.

The periodontist is a highly skilled dental health professional who is able to diagnose and treat many commonly occurring soft tissue and bone problems in the oral cavity.

 

When to See a Periodontist

A periodontist is a dentist specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infections and diseases in the soft tissues surrounding the teeth, and the jawbone to which the teeth are anchored.  Periodontists have to train an additional three years beyond the four years of regular dental school, and are familiar with the most advanced techniques necessary to treat periodontal disease and place dental implants.  Periodontists also perform a vast range of cosmetic procedures to enhance the smile to its fullest extent.

Periodontal disease begins when the toxins found in plaque start to attack the soft or gingival tissue surrounding the teeth.  This bacterium embeds itself in the gum and rapidly breeds, causing a bacterial infection.  As the infection progresses, it starts to burrow deeper into the tissue causing inflammation or irritation between the teeth and gums.  The response of the body is to destroy the infected tissue, which is why the gums appear to recede.  The resulting pockets between the teeth deepen and if no treatment is sought, the tissue which makes up the jawbone also recedes causing unstable teeth and tooth loss.

Referrals from General Dentists and Self Referral

There are several ways treatment from a periodontist may be sought.   In the course of a regular dental check up, if the general dentist or hygienist finds symptoms of gingivitis or rapidly progressing periodontal disease, a consultation with a periodontist may be recommended.  However, a referral is not necessary for a periodontal consultation.

If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, it is important that you schedule an appointment with a periodontist without delay:

  • Bleeding while eating or brushing – Unexplained bleeding while consuming food or during the course of daily cleaning is one of the most common signs of periodontal infection.
  • Bad breath  Continued halitosis (bad breath) which persists even when a rigorous oral hygiene program is in place, can be indicative of periodontitis, gingivitis or the beginnings of an infection in the gum tissues.
  • Loose teeth and gum recession – Longer looking teeth can signal recession of the gums and bone loss due to periodontal disease.  As this disease progresses and attacks the jawbone, (the anchor holding the teeth in place) the teeth may become loose or be lost alltogher.
  • Gangrene in the tissues – Gangrene is hard to self diagnose but the general dentist and periodontist will check for its presence in the soft tissues, alveolar bone and periodontal ligament.
  • Related health conditions – Heart disease, diabetes, osteopenia and osteoporosis are highly correlated with periodontitis and periodontal infections.  The bacteria infection can spread through the blood stream and affect other parts of the body.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Before initiating any dental treatment, the periodontist must extensively examine the gums, jawbone and general condition of the teeth.  When gingivitis or periodontal disease is officially diagnosed, the periodontist has a number of surgical and non surgical options available to treat the underlying infection, halt the recession of the soft tissue, and restructure or replace teeth which may be missing.

  • Gingivitis/mild periodontal disease – When the gum pockets exceed 4mm in depth, the periodontist or hygienist may perform scaling and root planing to remove debris from the pockets and allow them to heal.  Education and advice will be provided on an effective cleaning regime thereafter.
  • Moderate periodontal disease – If the gum pockets reach 4-6mm in length a more extensive scaling and root planning cleaning might be required.  This cleaning is usually performed under local anesthetic.
  • Advanced periodontal disease – Gum pockets in excess of 6-7mm are usually accompanied by bone loss and gum recession.  Scaling and root planning will always be performed as the initial nonsurgical treatment.  In addition to tose nonsurgical treatments, the periodontist may recommend surgical treatment to reduce pocket depth.
  • Tooth loss – Where one or several teeth are missing due to periodontal disease, dental implants are an effective option.  If the bone is strong enough to provide a suitable anchor for the prosthetic tooth, the implant can be placed.  However, if the bone is severely eroded, bone grafts may be performed by the periodontist to provide a suitable anchor for the new tooth/teeth.

 

Antibiotic Treatment

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition which leads to severe inflammation and tooth loss if left untreated.  Antibiotic treatments can be used in combination with scaling and root planning, curettage, surgery or as a stand-alone treatment to help reduce bacteria before and/or after many common periodontal procedures.

Antibiotic treatments come in several different types, including oral forms and topical gels which are applied directly into the gum pockets.  Research has shown that in the case of acute periodontal infection, refractory periodontal disease, prepubertal periodontal disease and juvenile periodontal disease, antibiotic treatments have been incredibly effective.

Antibiotics can be prescribed at a low dose for longer term use, or as a short term medication to deter bacteria from re-colonizing.

Oral Antibiotics

Oral antibiotics tend to affect the whole body and are less commonly prescribed than topical gel.  Here are some specific details about several different types of oral antibiotics:

  • Tetracycline antibiotics – Antibiotics which include tetracycline hydrochloride, doxycycline, and minocycline are the primary drugs used in periodontal treatment.  They have antibacterial properties, reduce inflammation and block collagenase (a protein which destroys the connective tissue).
  • Macrolide antibiotics This group of antibiotics has proven effective at reducing inflammation, and can also reduce bacterial growth associated with periodontitis.
  • Metronidazole This antibiotic is generally used in combination with amoxicillin or tetracycline to combat inflammation and bacterial growth in severe or chronic periodontitis.

Topical Gels and Strips

The biggest advantage of the direct delivery of antibiotics to the surfaces of the gums is that the whole body is not affected.  Topical gels and direct delivery methods tend to be preferred over their oral counterparts and are extremely effective when used after scaling and root planing procedures. Here are some of the most commonly used direct delivery antibiotics:

  • Atridox® – This doxycycline gel conforms to the contours of gum surfaces and solidifies over them. Over several days, this gel gradually releases the antibiotic medication.
  • PerioChip® – This chip is placed into the actual gum pocket after root planing procedure. PerioChip® slowly releases Chlorhexidine, a powerful antibacterial antiseptic. PerioChip® reduces pocket depth in most cases in periodontitis sufferers.
  • Actisite® This thin strip is similar to dental floss and contains tetracycline hydrochloride. The thread is place temporarily directly between the tooth and gum to kill bacteria and reduce the depth of gum pockets. Several threads are sometimes placed for around 10 days to enhance the antibiotic effect.
  • Elyzol® – This metronidazole antibiotic comes in gel and strip form. It is unique because it is able to destroy parasites as well as oral bacteria.
  • Arestin® – This Minocycline antibiotic comes in mini capsules which are delivered into the gums after scaling and root planning.

Noticeable periodontal improvements are usually seen after systemic or oral antibiotic treatment. Your Periodontist or dentist will incorporate and recommend the necessary antibiotic treatments as necessary for the healing of your periodontal condition.

 

Bone Grafting

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of bone loss in the oral cavity, though there are others such as ill-fitting dentures and facial trauma.  The bone grafting procedure is an excellent way to replace lost bone tissue and encourage natural bone growth.  Bone grafting is a versatile and predictable procedure which fulfills a wide variety of functions.

A bone graft may be required to create a stable base for dental implant placement, to halt the progression of gum disease or to make the smile appear more aesthetically pleasing.

There are several types of dental bone grafts.  The following are the most common:

  • Autogenous bone graft – In this type of graft the bone is removed from elsewhere in the body and implanted in the mouth.  Common donor sites for bone grafting include the iliac section of the pelvis, the chin and the posterior third molar areas of the jaw.  If large amounts of bone need to be harvested, the hip or the shin bone (tibia) is generally used.
  • Allograft – Synthetic bone (man made) can be created in the laboratory and used in the bone grafting procedure.  Bone can also be obtained from a bone bank (cadaver bone).
  • Xenograft This is the implantation of bovine (cow) bone.  A xenograft is perfectly safe and has been used successfully for many years.  Ample bone can be obtained and no secondary donor site is necessary.

Reasons for bone grafting

There are a wide variety of reasons why bone grafting may be the best option for restoring the jaw bone.

Dental implants – Implants are the preferred replacement method for missing teeth because they restore full functionality to the mouth; however, implants need to be firmly anchored to the jawbone to be effective.  If the jawbone lacks the necessary quality or quantity of bone, bone grafting can strengthen and thicken the implant site.

Sinus lift – A sinus lift entails elevating the sinus membrane and grafting bone onto the sinus floor so that implants can be securely placed.

Ridge augmentation Ridges in the bone can occur due to trauma, injury, birth defects or severe periodontal disease.  The bone graft is used to fill in the ridge and make the jawbone a uniform shape.

Nerve repositioning - If the inferior alveolar nerve requires movement to allow for the placement of implants, a bone grafting procedure may be required.  The inferior alveolar nerve allows feeling and sensation in the lower chin and lip.

What does bone grafting treatment involve?

Bone grafting is a fairly simple procedure which may be performed under local anesthetic; however if large amounts of bone area need to be grafted, general anesthetic may be required.

Initially, the grafting material needs to either be harvested or prepared for insertion.  A small incision is made in the gum tissue and then gently separated from the bone.  The bone grafting material is then placed at the affected site.

The bone regeneration process may be aided by:

  • Gum/bone tissue regeneration – A thin barrier (membrane) is placed below the gum line over the grafting material.  This barrier creates enough space for healthy tissue to grow and separates the faster growing gum tissue from the slower growing fibers.  This means that bone cells can migrate to the protected area and grow naturally.
  • Tissue stimulating proteins Enamel matrix proteins occur during natural tooth development.  Emdogain is a matrix protein product which is usually placed on the affected site before the gum is sutured.  It mediates the formation of accellular cementum on the tooth which provides a foundation to allow periodontal attachment to occur.  Tissue stimulating proteins help to create lost support in areas affected by periodontal defects.
  • Platelet-rich growth factors A high platelet concentration liquid can be used to create a blood clot at the site of a wound.  It has recently been discovered that PRGF also stimulates bone growth – meaning a denser graft in a shorter time period.

The gum is sutured in place and a follow up appointment will need to be made within 10 days to assess progress.  Bone grafting is a highly successful treatment and a good base for further periodontal restorations.

 

Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening is generally performed in order to improve the health of the gum tissue, or to prepare the mouth for restorative or cosmetic procedures.  In addition, crown lengthening procedures can also be used to correct a “gummy” smile, where teeth are covered with excess gum tissue.  Crown lengthening exposes more of the natural tooth by reshaping or recontouring bone and gum tissue.  This treatment can be performed on a single tooth, many teeth or the entire gum line, to expose a pleasant, aesthetically pleasing smile.

Reasons for crown lengthening

Crown lengthening is a versatile and common procedure that has many effective uses and benefits.  The vast majority of patients who have undergone this type of surgery are highly delighted with the results.

Here are some of the most common reasons for crown lengthening:

  • Restoration of damaged teeth Periodontal disease can cause severe damage to the teeth, as can trauma and decay.  Where teeth have been broken beneath the gum line, crown lengthening can be used to prepare the area for a new restoration to correct the damaged teeth.
  • Cosmetic uses Extra gum tissue can make teeth look unnaturally short, and also increase susceptibility to periodontal infections.  Removing excess gum tissue can restore a balanced, healthy look and thus improve the aesthetic appearance of the smile.
  • Dental crowns – Crown lengthening serves to provide more space between the supporting jawbone and dental crown.  This prevents the new crown from damaging gum tissues and bone once it is in place.

What does crown lengthening involve?

Crown lengthening is normally performed under local anesthetic.  The amount of time this procedure takes will largely depend in how many teeth are involved and whether a small amount of bone needs to be removed, in addition to the soft tissue.  Any existing dental crowns will be removed prior to the procedure, and replaced immediately afterwards.

The dentist will make a series of small incisions around the soft tissue in order to separate the gums away from the teeth.  Even if only one tooth requires the re-contour, neighboring teeth are usually treated to provide a more even reshaping.  Separating the gums provides the dentist with access to the roots of the teeth and the underlying bone.

In some cases, the removal of a small amount of tissue will provide enough tooth exposure to place a crown.  In other cases, the dentist will also need to remove a small amount of bone from around the teeth.  The bone is usually removed using a combination of special hand instruments, and rotary instruments.  The rotary instruments roughly resemble the drill that is used in cavity treatment.

When the dentist is satisfied the teeth have sufficient exposure, the wound will be cleaned with sterile water and the gum tissue will be sutured with small stitches.  The teeth will look noticeably longer immediately after surgery because the gums have now been repositioned.

The dentist will secure the surgical site using an intraoral (periodontal) bandage, which serves to prevent infection.  Prescriptions may be provided for pain medication, and a chlorhexidine (antimicrobial) mouth rinse may be given to help reduce any bacteria attempting to re-colonize.  The surgical site will be completely healed in approximately two to three months.

 

Oral Cancer Exam

According to research conducted by the American Cancer society, more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year.  More than 7,000 of these cases result in the death of the patient.  The good news is that oral cancer can easily be diagnosed with an annual oral cancer exam, and effectively treated when caught in its earliest stages.

Oral cancer is a pathologic process which begins with an asymptomatic stage during which the usual cancer signs may not be readily noticeable.  This makes the oral cancer examinations performed by the dentist critically important.  Oral cancers can be of varied histologic types such as teratoma, adenocarcinoma and melanoma.  The most common type of oral cancer is the malignant squamous cell carcinoma.  This oral cancer type usually originates in lip and mouth tissues.

There are many different places in the oral cavity and maxillofacial region in which oral cancers commonly occur, including:

  • Lips
  • Mouth
  • Tongue
  • Salivary Glands
  • Oropharyngeal Region (throat)
  • Gums
  • Face

Reasons for oral cancer examinations

It is important to note that around 75 percent of oral cancers are linked with modifiable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption.  Your dentist can provide literature and education on making lifestyle changes and smoking cessation.

When oral cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, treatment is generally very effective.  Any noticeable abnormalities in the tongue, gums, mouth or surrounding area should be evaluated by a health professional as quickly as possible.  During the oral cancer exam, the dentist and dental hygienist will be scrutinizing the maxillofacial and oral regions carefully for signs of pathologic changes.

The following signs will be investigated during a routine oral cancer exam:

  • Red patches and sores – Red patches on the floor of the mouth, the front and sides of the tongue, white or pink patches which fail to heal and slow healing sores that bleed easily can be indicative of pathologic (cancerous) changes.
  • Leukoplakia – This is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesion that can appear anywhere inside the mouth. Leukoplakia can be cancerous, or may become cancerous if treatment is not sought.
  • Lumps – Soreness, lumps or the general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth can signal pathological problems.

Oral cancer exams, diagnosis and treatment

The oral cancer examination is a completely painless process.  During the visual part of the examination, the dentist will look for abnormality and feel the face, glands and neck for unusual bumps.  Lasers which can highlight pathologic changes are also a wonderful tool for oral cancer checks.  The laser can “look” below the surface for abnormal signs and lesions which would be invisible to the naked eye.

If abnormalities, lesions, leukoplakia or lumps are apparent, the dentist will implement a diagnostic impression and treatment plan.  In the event that the initial treatment plan is ineffective, a biopsy of the area will be performed.  The biopsy includes a clinical evaluation which will identify the precise stage and grade of the oral lesion.

Oral cancer is deemed to be present when the basement membrane of the epithelium has been broken.  Malignant types of cancer can readily spread to other places in the oral and maxillofacial regions, posing additional secondary threats.  Treatment methods vary according to the precise diagnosis, but may include excision, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

During bi-annual check-ups, the dentist and hygienist will thoroughly look for changes and lesions in the mouth, but a dedicated comprehensive oral cancer screening should be performed at least once each year.

 

Prophylaxis (Teeth Cleaning)

A dental prophylaxis is a cleaning procedure performed to thoroughly clean the teeth.  Prophylaxis is an important dental treatment for halting the progression of periodontal disease and gingivitis.

Periodontal disease and gingivitis occur when bacteria from plaque colonize on the gingival (gum) tissue, either above or below the gum line.  These bacteria colonies cause serious inflammation and irritation which in turn produce a chronic inflammatory response in the body.  As a result, the body begins to systematically destroy gum and bone tissue, making the teeth shift, become unstable, or completely fall out.  The pockets between the gums and teeth become deeper and house more bacteria which may travel via the bloodstream and infect other parts of the body.

Reasons for prophylaxis/teeth cleaning

Prophylaxis is an excellent procedure to help keep the oral cavity in good health and also halt the progression of gum disease.

Here are some of the benefits of prophylaxis:

  • Tartar removal Tartar (calculus) and plaque buildup, both above and below the gum line, can cause serious periodontal problems if left untreated.  Even using the best brushing and flossing homecare techniques, it can be impossible to remove debris, bacteria and deposits from gum pockets.  The experienced eye of a dentist using specialized dental equipment is needed in order to spot and treat problems such as tartar and plaque buildup.
  • Aesthetics – It’s hard to feel confident about a smile marred by yellowing, stained teeth.  Prophylaxis can rid the teeth of unsightly stains and return the smile to its former glory.
  • Fresher breath – Periodontal disease is often signified by persistent bad breath (halitosis).  Bad breath is generally caused by a combination of rotting food particles below the gum line, possible gangrene stemming from gum infection, and periodontal problems.  The removal of plaque, calculus and bacteria noticeably improves breath and alleviates irritation.

Identification of health issues – Many health problems first present themselves to the dentist.  Since prophylaxis involves a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity, the dentist is able to screen for oral cancer, evaluate the risk of periodontitis and often spot signs of medical problems like diabetes and kidney problems.  Recommendations can also be provided for altering the home care regimen.

What does prophylaxis treatment involve?

Prophylaxis can either be performed in the course of a regular dental visit or, if necessary, under general anesthetic.  The latter is particularly common where severe periodontal disease is suspected or has been diagnosed by the dentist.  An endotracheal tube is sometimes placed in the throat to protect the lungs from harmful bacteria which will be removed from the mouth.

Prophylaxis is generally performed in several stages:

          Supragingival cleaning – The dentist will thoroughly clean the area above the gum line with scaling tools to rid them of plaque and calculus.

             Subgingival cleaning – This is the most important step for patients with periodontal disease because the dentist is able to remove calculus from the gum pockets and beneath the gum line.

             Root planing - This is the smoothing of the tooth root by the dentist to eliminate any remaining bacteria.  These bacteria are extremely dangerous to periodontitis sufferers, so eliminating them is one of the top priorities of the dentist.

             Medication - Following scaling and root planing, an antibiotic or antimicrobial cream is often placed in the gum pockets.  These creams promote fast and healthy healing in the pockets and help ease discomfort.

             X-ray and examination  Routine X-rays can be extremely revealing when it comes to periodontal disease.  X-rays show the extent of bone and gum recession, and also aid the dentist in identifying areas which may need future attention.

Prophylaxis is recommended twice annually as a preventative measure, but should be performed every 3-4 months on periodontitis sufferers.  Though gum disease cannot be completely reversed, prophylaxis is one of the tools the dentist can use to effectively halt its destructive progress.

 

 

Ridge Modification

Ridge modification is an effective procedure for treating deformities in the upper and lower jaws.  These deformities can occur as a result of periodontal disease, trauma, injury, wearing dentures, or developmental problems.  Such defects can leave insufficient bone for the placement of dental implants and an additional unattractive indentation in the jaw line adjacent to the missing teeth.

During the ridge modification procedure, the gum is lifted away from the ridge to fully expose the defect in the bone.  The bony defect can be filled with bone graft material which can help regenerate lost bone, or a bone substitute.  Finally, the incision is closed and several months of healing will be required.  Depending on the case and type of implant and procedure, a dental implant may be placed during the ridge modification procedure or when healing is complete; much depends on the precise condition of the bone.  Ridge modification improves the cosmetic appearance, functionality of the mouth, and the chance of enjoying dental implants for many years.

 

Sinus Augmentation

A dental implant is essentially an artificial tooth root which is attached to the jaw bone.  Eventually, a replacement tooth or bridge will be firmly fixed to this root, restoring complete function to the tooth.  The key to a successful and long-lasting implant is the quality and quantity of jawbone to which the implant will be attached.  If bone has been lost due to injury or periodontal disease, a sinus augmentation can raise the sinus floor to allow for new bone formation.

In the most common sinus augmentation technique, a tiny incision is made near the upper premolar or molar region to expose the jawbone.  A small opening is cut into the bone and the membrane lining the sinus on the other side of the opening is gently pushed upward.  The underlying space is filled with bone graft material and the incision is closed.  The bone which is used for this procedure may be from your own body or from a cadaver.  Sometimes the dentist might use synthetic materials which can also stimulate bone formation.  The implants are placed after healing has occurred; this will depend on the individual case.  Sinus augmentation has been shown to increase the success of dental implant procedures.

 

Soft Tissue Grafting

Soft tissue grafting is often necessary to combat gum recession.  Periodontal disease, trauma, aging, over brushing, and poor tooth positioning are the leading causes of gum recession which can lead to tooth-root exposure in severe cases.

When the roots of the teeth become exposed, eating hot and cold foods can be uncomfortable, decay is more prevalent and the aesthetic appearance of the smile is altered.  The main goal of soft tissue grafting is to either cover the exposed root or to thicken the existing gum tissue in order to halt further tissue loss.

The three different types of common soft tissue grafts include:

  • Free gingival graft – A strip of tissue is removed from the roof of the mouth and stitched to the grafting site in order to promote natural growth.  This type of graft is most commonly used for thickening existing tissue.
  • Connective tissue graft For larger areas or root exposure, subepithelial tissue is needed to remedy the problem.  This subepithelial connective tissue is removed from a small flap in the mouth and sutured to the grafting site.  This is the most common treatment for root exposure.
  • Pedicle graft This type of graft involves the “sharing” of soft tissue between the affected site and adjacent gum.  A flap of tissue is partially cut away and moved sideways to cover the root.  The results of this type of graft are excellent because the tissue that is moved to the adjacent area includes blood vessels that are left in place.

Reasons for soft tissue grafting

Soft tissue grafting is an extremely versatile procedure that has many uses.  Recent developments in dental technology have made soft tissue grafting more predictable and less intrusive.  Here are some of the main benefits associated with soft tissue grafting treatment:

  • Increased comfort – Root exposure can cause substantial pain and discomfort.  Eating hot, cold or even warm foods can cause severe discomfort. Soft tissue grafts cover the exposed root, decreases sensitivity and restore good health to the gum area.
  • Improved aesthetics Gum recession due to periodontal disease can cause the smile to look “toothy” or the teeth to appear uneven in size.  Soft tissue grafting can be used as a cosmetic procedure to re-augment the gums, and make the smile appear more symmetrical.
  • Improved gum health Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that can destroy soft tissue very rapidly.  When used in combination with deep cleaning procedures, soft tissue grafting can halt tissue and bone loss, and protect exposed roots from further complications.

What does soft tissue grafting treatment involve?

Initially, deep cleaning will be performed both above and below the gum line to clear the teeth and roots of calculus (tartar).  The grafting procedure itself will generally be performed under local anesthetic, but this will depend on the size of the areas receiving grafts.  A small incision will be made at the recipient site in order to create a small pocket.  A split thickness incision is made in this pocket and the donor tissue is placed between the two sections of this area.  The donor tissue strip is generally larger than the incision, so some excess will be apparent.

Platelet rich growth factors which stimulate natural tissue growth and promote good healing may be applied to the site before suturing.  In addition, tissue-stimulating proteins may be added to encourage quicker tissue growth.  Finally, the wound site will be sutured to prevent shifting, and surgical material will be placed to protect the sensitive area.  Gum uniformity and substantial healing will take place in the first six weeks after the procedure.

 

 

 

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