A New Way to Treat Gum Disease: Perioscopy
What would you think if, every time you washed your hands, they started bleeding – well, once you got over the horror show aspect of it all, that is? Rush to a doctor, right?
Yet when people see blood on their toothbrush or dental floss, a surprising number of them do nothing, as if blood were the most natural thing you’d expect to see there.
But bleeding gums aren’t normal. They’re a sign of periodontal disease – a/k/a gum disease. Science has linked this progressive condition to many systemic health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, cognitive decline, and cancer.
Persistent infection and inflammation make the gums look red and puffy, and they become more prone to bleeding. The pockets between tooth and gum – sulci – become deeper, providing an even safer haven for harmful bacteria and other microbes. They thrive in such dark, wet, low-oxygen spaces.
Eventually, the bone that supports the teeth begins to deteriorate, as well, and the teeth become wobbly in their sockets. Soon enough, they become candidates for extraction – if they don’t fall out on their own first.
The toothless look? It’s never in style.
But here’s the good news: Along with better home care, nutrition, and lifestyle changes, there are treatments that can help reverse the disease process.
The most common non-surgical treatment is scaling and root planing, in which we clean not only the visible tooth surfaces but the roots below the gumline. We break up the biofilms that form there, flushing out as much harmful bacteria as possible. Ozone can also be used to further disinfect the pockets.
Just this past month, a study in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene evaluated scaling and root planing results in more than 1100 adults with periodontitis (advanced gum disease). For 39% of participants, the treatment – which also included hygiene instruction, tooth polishing, and a course of antibiotics – was a success. They had shallower periodontal pockets and less bleeding upon probing.
While that’s good, there’s certainly room for improvement! And that’s where Perioscopy comes in.
One of the challenges of conventional scaling and root planing is that you just can’t see what you’re actually cleaning. The most essential work happens under the gum line, on the root of the tooth.
With the Perioscope, however, we can actually view the roots while we’re cleaning them and the surrounding tissues – a procedure known as debridement. (We can also use it as a diagnostic tool to get an early read on any problems that may be shaping up below the gum line.) Take a look:
The end result is more effective cleaning and disinfection. As Dr. John Kwan, clinical director of Perioscopy, has noted, results are simply “more predictable when the root is visualized.”
The Perioscope allows for root debridement in a very minimally invasive microvisual way and this can be done by dentists and hygienists (without an assistant).
We have plenty of evidence to support the lack of effectiveness when providing root debridement blindly. What bothers me is that this effort is generally accepted as the standard of care for initial therapy.
But not here at Green City Dental in Edmonds! Here, it’s standard after Oral DNA testing and other diagnostics have revealed advancing gum disease.
Perioscopy is non-invasive, effective, and more economical than periodontal surgery. The whole mouth can be treated in a single visit. The only follow-up is for your next cleaning, months down the road, to ensure that the healthier tissue stays healthy.
For we can also use Perioscopy to actually regenerate both soft and hard tissues lost to the ravages of gum disease. Following a protocol developed by Judy Carroll, RDH – Dr. T’s aunt, no less! – we start by cleaning the roots endoscopically.
Emdogain, a natural regenerative protein, is then placed on properly prepared root surfaces in all deep gum pockets to stimulate the body’s own regenerative stem cells, reduce inflammation, inhibit growth of bacteria, aid in the reattachment of the gums, and promote bone fill. Safe and effective anti-inflammatory medication is used to promote more rapid healing and stability of the gums by resetting the inflammatory response and boosting activation of regenerative cells.
Be sure to head over to that last link above to see more amazing before/after x-rays that show just how much bone can be regenerated through this procedure!
More bone means more support for the teeth and no more of the wobbling you get when gum disease is left unchecked.
And that means a healthier smile for you – naturally.