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Periodontal & Gum Disease Therapy

Regular general dentistry appointments are imperative because Dr. Gillis and her trained staff can stop and reverse gum disease in its earlier stages before the disease has progressed. Our office will help improve your overall oral health and maintain your natural teeth by making sure they and their supporting structures – the gums and bone – are as healthy as possible. No symptom is too small to mention when you schedule your appointment at our Grand Junction office, so don’t hesitate to bring them up.

What Are Gingivitis (Gum Disease) and Periodontitis (Periodontal Disease)?


Periodontal disease before treatment

Periodontal disease after treatment in Dr Gillis’ office

Gingivitis in an infection of the gums. Leaving this common condition untreated is like leaving open, infected wounds anywhere on your skin. Your gums are a barrier to bacteria entering your bloodstream and traveling throughout your body, so it is important to try to keep gums as healthy as possible. Periodontitis, is an advanced form of gingivitis in which bacteria infiltrate below the gum line to actively destroy the tissue and bone around the teeth. The bacteria can create pockets in your gums where toothbrushes, dental floss, and mouthwash can’t reach. Ask Dr. Gillis about her periodontal treatment options today to counteract gum disease and periodontal disease.

Importance of Early Gum Disease Diagnosis & Rejuvenating Care

The pocket space around every one of your teeth adds up to an area the size of your palm. If you had a sore that big on your arm, would you be concerned? I think you would! If there were a chance of losing part of your arm, would you treat this? Infected gums can be the entry point for bacteria to travel to other parts of your body and this leads to

  • Increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Increased difficulty controlling diabetes.
  • Pregnant women with severe gum disease are more likely to deliver a pre-term low-birth weight baby.
  • Because periodontal disease is transmissible, your spouse may be sharing aggressive bacteria with you!

Our office cares about you and your periodontal health. We would like you to be as informed as possible about periodontal disease and your options to treat it! We are continuing to improve our methods of periodontal therapy for our patients so that is more comfortable and more predictable.

Approximately 80% of American adults have gingivitis (gum disease) or periodontal disease. Many people don’t realize they have gum disease because it doesn’t hurt in the early to middle stages. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause bone and tooth loss.

If you want to make your oral health a priority, you’re going to need to work with a dentist you can trust. Having a dental examination twice a year is important for your teeth and your gums to keep a professional eye on what’s going on in your mouth. It can be difficult to spot problems with plaque and gum disease early on, but a dependable dentist who has your needs in mind will address these issues as they arise. Dr. Julie Gillis is familiar and thorough with providing gum disease treatments from her office in Grand Junction, and our staff is ready to treat you with respect and professionalism.

We focus on identifying and stopping the progression of gum disease and periodontal disease during comprehensive general dentistry exams and during each of your visits to our office, but we know gum disease can develop and progress quickly. It’s why we urge you to contact our office as soon as a problem arises so we can tackle it together.

Gum Disease & Periodontal Disease: Warning Signs & Symptoms

  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Pain when chewing
  • Receding gums

Periodontal disease with bone loss showing on x-ray.

There are many factors at work for the development of gum disease and periodontal disease.  Some of the symptoms are the same, but with periodontal disease, there is also the permanent loss of your jaw bone. Buildup of plaque, genetic predisposition, and lifestyle choices advance the progression of gum disease, but the most controllable factor at play is the presence of bacterial plaque. The sticky colorless film is produced by oral bacteria normally present in the mouth. These bacteria release toxins that have the ability to destroy natural fibers connecting your gums to your teeth. As this connection is damaged, pockets between your teeth and gums form, which allow for further destruction as the toxins infiltrate this space and continue their destruction. Once bacteria reach this area, it’s beyond the control of a toothbrush and dental floss, and you’ll need to contact Dr. Gillis’s restorative dentistry office to receive excellent gum disease or periodontal disease therapy.

What Is the Periodontal Diagnosis Process Like? What to Expect During Your Exam

Periodontal therapy to treat periodontal disease should come after a thorough exam and diagnosis of your current periodontal and dental health. This comprehensive exam must include the following:

  1. Careful measuring around every tooth to check for pockets, recession, tartar, bleeding and infection. This can be completed by a dentist or a qualified dental hygienist.
  2. A thorough dental examination of the teeth (this must be done by a dentist) for any problem areas. Gaps, broken fillings or teeth, and rough restorations might be contributing to difficulty in cleaning, tooth mobility, or food impaction.
  3. An evaluation of your TMJ or jaw joint.
  4. An evaluation of the chewing muscles.
  5. A complete soft tissue and oral cancer exam.

The hygienists most important duty is to diagnose periodontal disease and provide the appropriate treatment. The dentist or dental hygienist will use a blunt instrument, a periodontal probe, to evaluate the pocket depth between your teeth and gums. This should not result in bleeding just as running the instrument across the back of your hand should not result in bleeding.

When bleeding gums are present, research shows that dangerous bacteria that live in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and travel through your body putting you at risk for a number of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and even some cancers. Of course, bad breath is also an issue associated with gum disease and periodontal disease.

Simply put, periodontal disease means the permanent loss of your jawbone. You cannot have periodontal disease without permanent bone loss. No one wants that! Note here that gum disease or gingivitis is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria. You can have gum disease without having periodontal disease.

Actual patient before & after Periodontal Disease treatment

Periodontal Therapy Options

Periodontal therapy in our office is a treatment aimed at controlling the harmful bacteria below the gums, saving your teeth and reducing your risk for systemic disease. The treatment is only successful when scheduled visits are kept and patients participate by stepping up their care at home. We will guide you in this process!

Bacteria that cause periodontal disease hang out between your teeth and your gums. A dentist or dental hygienist should measure the depth of this space when you are having any type of periodontal treatment completed. You can keep 3mm or less pockets clean by yourself with routing brushing, flossing and rinsing. If you have pockets that are over 4mm deep there is no way you can get to the bottom of the pockets on a daily basis to remove harmful bacteria and toxins. You will have bacteria living and multiplying and putting toxins in these pockets and this can lead to a chronic gum infection.  You may have even noticed occasional bleeding with flossing or a bad taste or odor in odor mouth from these infections. In our office, we have a couple of options to treat periodontal disease and help you preserve your teeth. The objective of periodontal therapy is to reduce the pockets and eliminate infection!

Periodontal Debridement or Deep Scaling

If we can reduce the pockets around your teeth to 3 mm or less, we know that you can manage the bacteria that get under the gums to control progression of the disease. Periodontal debridement consists of removing deposits of infected tartar and calculus below the gums and creating a smooth surface where less bacteria can have a place to attach. Successful periodontal treatment does not prevent systemic disease, but helps to significantly decrease the risk of developing these diseases.

What Happens During Periodontal Debridement or Deep Scaling?

Periodontal debridement is a very specialized cleaning of the teeth to the depth of the pockets. It is very important to select a talented dental hygienist for this treatment. In our office, hygienists are continually undergoing continuing education to keep up with the best techniques available and quality care is their top priority.

During the process, tartar is carefully removed. The hygienist removes any debris and hard deposits that are adhering to your teeth. This is kind of like removing the barnacles off a pier. Our hygienists clean into your pockets and this helps remove a major reservoir of bacteria and toxins. The tartar or calculus that our hygiene team removes for you is like an apartment complex for periodontal and gum disease bacteria. The hygienists will disrupt the sticky biofilm full of bacteria and food that is around your teeth below the gums. The entire procedure should be comfortable for you with the use of numbing rinses and/or local anesthetic

After this treatment, the root of the tooth should be smooth not rough or damaged. The final step  hygienist will assist you with a program for proper homecare.

Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy (LAPT)

Use of the dental laser during your periodontal therapy allows the hygienist to complete curettage of the infected tissue below the gums to remove the memory cells that turn on inflammation. If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease this is an infection of your bone and the supporting structures for your teeth. LAPT helps prevent or slow down the irreversible loss of your jaw bone!

After removing rough and infected tartar and calculus deposits from the teeth, the laser is used to selectively remove the diseased, infected tissue around your teeth. Our office uses a diode laser to selectively target diseased infected tissue and leaving more healthy tissue alone. At the same time, the laser will kill the bacteria that cause your gum disease and periodontal disease, and stimulate the bottom of your gum pockets to heal. The laser helps increase circulation at the bottom of your pockets and helps revive or rejuvenate your gum attachment.

A whole mouth LAPT costs about $1,480.00 in our office and dental insurance normally picks up about half of this cost. Your individual therapy costs may be less than this depending on your periodontal condition.

What Does Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy Accomplish?

  1. Laser curettage selectively targets diseased tissue and promotes the growth of healthy tissue.
  2. Laser bacterial reduction.
  3. Bio stimulation. Increased circulation, collagen formation, osteoblastic activity, and fibroblastic activity. Lasers may seal off blood vessels and nerve endings which lessens bleeding and postoperative pain and swelling.
  4. Guided tissue regeneration.

Why Choose Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy to Treat Periodontal Disease?

  1. LAPT is a conservative, non-surgical approach. This includes periodontal debridement or deep scaling including LAPT. With proper homecare and your participation, successful results can be possible. We first make sure the entire procedure is comfortable for you with the use of rinses or local anesthetic.
  2. Before the laser is applied, our hygienists go into your gingival pockets to remove any debris and hard deposits that are adhering to your teeth. This process helps eliminate a major reservoir of bacteria. The tartar or calculus that our hygiene team removes is like an apartment complex for gum disease bacteria. The hygienists will disrupt the sticky biofilm that is around your teeth below the gums to help tissue heal.
  3. The laser is then used to selectively remove the diseased and infected tissue around your teeth. This laser selectively targets diseased, infected tissue and leaves healthy tissue alone. At the same time, the laser will kill the bacteria that are causing your gum disease, and stimulate the gums to heal. We have found that the lasers help increase your circulation at the bottom of your pockets and help revive or rejuvenate your gum attachment. Curettage removes memory cells that turn on inflammation.
  4. Many studies have found that lasers (the right ones!) help increase circulation at the bottom of your pockets and helps revive or rejuvenate your gum attachment.
  5. You will return to our office in about 3-4 months for us to re-evaluate the success of this periodontal therapy. At that time, we will determine if we need to continue with surgical therapy in our office or refer you to a Periodontist for gum surgery.

When we complete periodontal debridement including laser therapy, our goal is to prevent the irreversible loss of your jaw bone. Can we stop this? No, but we can slow it down. With the right treatments and home care we can help patients to manage this disease.

Laser Bacterial Reduction

Laser bacterial reduction (LBR) is useful for most patients before their regular cleaning. LBR can accomplish the following goals:

  • Eliminates or reduces bacteremia, which is good for the whole body,
  • Reduces or eliminates cross contamination from one area of your mouth to another.
  • Kills potential periodontal disease organisms before loss of attachment.

Perio Trays® from Perio Protect®

As an additional therapy for our patients, or for patients who need more to help address their periodontal disease, sometimes Perio Trays® are prescribed. These custom formed trays are made from models of your teeth and you wear the trays while doing other activities for 10 to 20 minutes per day. Specialized medication is loaded into the tray, sometimes along with an antibiotic. The tray creates suction in the pockets around the teeth drawing the oxidizing agent to the depth of the pocket. This pushes a bacteria killing medication into every area missed with a toothbrush. The trays do not miss areas because they are a customized, sealed design. The most commonly prescribed solution used with the Perio Trays is the oxidizing agent Perio Gel® with 1.7% hydrogen peroxide. In addition to fighting infection, this gel can freshen breath and gradually whiten teeth as well.

Perio Trays are a non-surgical treatment. The trays are tailored to the exact conditions of your mouth, pocket to pocket, all the way around every tooth. This will get the medication directly to the source of the infection and keep it there until the bacteria are eliminated. This provides a daily protection that patients can do at home, helping them to treat areas under the gums that their toothbrush, mouth rinse, and dental floss simply cannot reach.

Every point that bleeds when the dental hygienist or dentist measures around your teeth is an area where bacteria can enter the bloodstream. Gums are protective skin inside your mouth and it is beneficial for them to be as healthy as possible.

Perio Trays are available only with a prescription from your dentist. The trays can provide more control over your oral health and may minimize the need for surgery. Vibramycin, an antibiotic, may be prescribed for use in the trays along with the Perio Gel. This antibiotic provides the following benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Reduces connective tissue breakdown
  • Assists with bone stabilization

If  you are prone to decay or have problems with tooth sensitivity, fluoride gel can also be used in these custom trays.

As an added benefit your dental cleanings will be easier when you have been using Perio Trays. You won’t need so much scraping on your teeth because the medication softens the deposits of tartar and calculus making them easier to remove. There will also be less bleeding during your dental cleanings, which allows the dental hygienist to see better and complete better care more quickly. If you need dental restorations, less bleeding helps ensure that the dentist can provide the very best treatment, efficiently and comfortably.

To summarize treatment with Perio Trays results in:

  • Less bleeding
  • Better health
  • Fresher breath,
  • Easier, more comfortable cleanings
  • Better overall dental treatment

How Much Does Treatment with the Perio Protect Method® Cost?

Patient wearing Perio® Trays.

Perio Trays provide preventive therapy in the convenience of your home, on your schedule, and at a modest cost. In our office, the cost of Perio Trays is $425.00 per arch treated or $850.00 for a whole mouth. Our office includes in this price your first four tubes of Perio Gel and all the visits needed to take the impressions, deliver the trays and carefully go over the use of the trays.

Combining Periodontal Therapies for Optimal Results

In our office, our talented hygienists combine the first periodontal debridement with laser assisted periodontal therapy (LAPT), so that you can get the best results from this less invasive therapy. When we complete periodontal debridement including laser therapy, our goal is to prevent further irreversible loss of your jaw bone. Can we stop bone loss completely? Sometimes we can! If we cannot stop bone loss, we can slow it down. We can help you to manage this disease.

You might ask, “Why don’t all dental offices do this?” This is a good question and it boils down to education about current treatment modalities that have been proven effective in the treatment of periodontal disease; and cost. Lasers are very expensive and the correct use of lasers requires advanced training.

Depending on your response to therapy, we may add one or more of the following:

  • Probiotics – defined as the daily administration of certain live microorganisms in amounts adequate to confer a health benefit on the host.
  • Customized Perio Trays that have been proven to improve your periodontal health.
  • Modifications to your daily oral hygiene regimen.

For more information, please contact our office to schedule your appointment with Dr. Gillis.