Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by bacterial plaque, a thin, sticky layer of microorganisms (called a biofilm) that collects at the gum line in the absence of effective daily oral hygiene. Plaque will eventually cause inflammation that can gradually separate the gums from the teeth and form little spaces that are referred to as “periodontal pockets.” The pockets offer an environment for the disease-causing bacteria to reproduce. If the infection remains untreated, it can spread from the gum tissue into the bone that supports the teeth.

When treating gum disease, it is best to begin with a non-surgical approach. We offer the following at our cosmetic dental clinic:

Scaling and Root Planing

An important goal in the treatment of gum disease is to rid the teeth and gums of pathogenic bacteria and the toxins they produce, which may become incorporated into the root surface of the teeth. This is done with a deep-cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing (or root debridement). Scaling involves removing plaque and hard deposits (calculus or tartar) from the surface of the teeth both above and below the gum line. Root planing is smoothing the tooth-root surfaces, making them more difficult for bacteria to adhere to.


As gum disease progresses, periodontal pockets and bone loss can result in the formation of tiny, hard to reach areas that are difficult to clean with handheld instruments. Sometimes it’s best to disinfect these places with a prescription antimicrobial rinse or a topical antibiotic that’s applied directly to the affected areas. These are used only on a short-term basis to prevent killing beneficial bacteria.

Bite Adjustment

For looser teeth, it’s possible to carefully reshape small amounts of tooth surface enamel to change how upper and lower teeth collide. You can also join your teeth together with a small metal or plastic brace so that they can support each other, and/or to provide you with a bite guard to wear when you grind or clench your teeth, which is usually while you sleep.

Oral Hygiene

Since dental plaque is the main cause of periodontal disease, it’s important to practice proper hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. Quitting smoking also helps to reduce the risk of periodontal disease.

We also suggest that you come into your local dentist office regularly to help prevent gum disease and other mouth related issues. Smiles by Dr. Santos welcomes patients of all ages, and we’ll be happy to help you keep smiling!