The branch of dentistry dealing with diseases of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth (including gums and alveolar bone).
- Periodontal treatment: Ultrasonic scaling above and below the gum line followed by polishing. Full-mouth radiographs and diagnostic dental charting (a physical examination of each tooth) are performed on all patients presenting for periodontal treatment. Repository (intra-pocket) antibiotic therapy may help slow the progression of periodontal disease in specific cases.
- Extraction of non-salvageable teeth: Local anesthetic agents (similar to Novocain®) and surgical extraction techniques are employed to minimize post-operative discomfort and speed healing. We use a piezoelectric ultrasonic surgery unit for difficult extractions, minimizing surgical trauma and expediting the procedure.
- Guided tissue regeneration (GTR). This procedure allows the conservation of teeth with significant bone loss in one or two specific areas but not affecting the entire tooth. With GTR, we perform open root planing and subgingival curettage, removing all plaque and calculus from the root surface and removing the pocket epithelium from the surrounding bone. Bone graft material (freeze-dried, demineralized) is mixed with the patient's blood to provide growth factors and allow induction of new bone formation, and a barrier membrane is placed over the graft to prevent downgrowth of gingival epithelial cells (which reproduce more rapidly than the cells that form bone and periodontal ligament) into the pocket. The membrane is what "guides" the formation of new bone (and, ideally, periodontal ligament) at the site by preventing the undesirable gingival epithelial cells from growing in that space. The bone grafts we use come from Veterinary Transplant Services, who has a Donor program (just like humans can elect to be tissue donors, people can elect to donate their deceased pets' remains to act as tissue donors for other pets). You can listen to an interview with Dr. Helen Newman, the person who started veterinary tissue banking, here.
- More information about periodontal disease