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Periodontal disease also known as gum disease is a series of conditions that effect the connection of the teeth to the body. This included the gums and more importantly the bone. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition. It is the inflammation that is the connection of the oral condition to the systemic well being of the patient. Periodontal disease is caused by dental plaque. Plaque is what is termed a biofilm. This is a collection of bacteria and bacterial products as well as some protein and carbohydrate matrix to support the bacterial growth. The accumulation of plaque will lead to the formation of calculus (tarter) which is a hard substance that requires professional treatment to remove.

The plaque and calculus causes the gingival (gums) to swell with the formation of periodontal pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums). The pockets collect more plaque and make it harder to clean and the periodontal disease will progress till one has pain or loose teeth.


Periodontal therapy is the treatment that is required to control the periodontal disease. All treatment is aimed at removing the plaque and letting the condition heal. After active treatment maintenance is mandatory to monitor the patient and to prevent the condition from returning.

Periodontal treatment almost always begins with a non-surgical phase of treatment called scaling and root planing. This is a very through cleaning of ones teeth and roots. While not a defined term, many people call this the “deep cleaning”. After this phase of treatment it is imperative to examine the patient to determine the response. Many times this treatment should be adequate to resolve the condition. Other times the condition may be sufficiently advanced with significant damage that periodontal surgery may be required.


Periodontal surgery is a term for the specific type of oral surgery where the periodontist is recognized expert. Many different surgical procedures with different objectives fall into the category of periodontal surgery. These procedures are used to stop infection and establish optimal periodontal health. Procedures are performed to add both gingiva (gum tissue) and bone. There is an array of cosmetic procedures to improve the appearance of the teeth and to allow the dentist to make more natural appearing teeth. Many times due to dental decay and or trauma tooth structure needs to be exposed so your dentist can make a properly fitted and biocompatible crown that should last a long time.

©2010 Richard B. Kahn, DDS | Last Updated