While periodic, professional cleanings are sufficient to maintain periodontal health in patients that do not have gum disease, once gingivitis is present, deeper cleanings and possibly other non-surgical methods of care are recommended to treat the condition.
The American Academy of Periodontology emphasizes achieving periodontal health by means of the least invasive and cost effective treatment approaches to care. Deeper cleanings, which include Scaling and Root planing, are non-surgical procedures that are considered the first line of defense against the progression of periodontal disease.
With scaling and root planing, any plaque and tartar (hardened dental plaque) that have accumulated below the gumline are carefully removed and then the root surfaces of the teeth are smoothed. Since, periodontal disease is an inflammatory response to plaque, tartar and bacterial toxins, by simply mechanically eliminating these agents, the progression of gum disease can be halted. In addition to removing plaque and tartar with a scaling and root planing procedure, antimicrobial medication placed under the gumline or systemic medications can be used as adjuncts to care to further reduce the bacterial population.
If non-surgical approaches to managing periodontal disease do not achieve the desired outcome, surgery may be recommended to halt its progression and repair damage as possible.