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The Success of Non-Surgical Periodontal Treatments

For most patients, surgery is not a soothing option— especially when it comes to oral health. Recent studies sought to understand just how effective non-surgical procedures are in treating periodontitis.

What Is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is a more advanced stage of gum disease. Your gums are essential in protecting your teeth from decay and infection.

Gum disease typically starts with gingivitis, which is when bacteria are flourishing in your mouth. These bacteria begin to irritate your gums, making them red and swollen.

Left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis. At this stage of gum disease, pockets begin to form between your teeth and your gums. Bacteria move into this space, causing even more inflammation and leaving your teeth vulnerable.

Untreated gum disease can eventually lead to infections and tooth loss because the structures that hold the teeth are no longer healthy. These health issues are typically resolved with root canals and extractions.Tooth loss in adults can also lead to a deterioration of your jawbone.

Gum disease is much more than an annoyance; it is an oral issue that can impact your overall health.

Periodontal Treatments

Treatment for advanced gum disease falls into two categories: surgical and non-surgical.

Gum surgeries include pocket reduction, gum grafts, and guided tissue regeneration. Like any surgery, these procedures carry risks and can be intimidating for patients.

Non-surgical treatments include scaling, root planing, and treatment with antibiotics. Scaling is the removal of tartar and plaque from the tooth surface. Root planing is when tooth roots are smoothed in order to halt and discourage bacteria growth on those structures. Antibiotic treatment is a topical treatment designed to eliminate the bacteria from the mouth.

Recently, researchers wanted to test the effectiveness of non-surgical treatments on periodontal treatments.

Testing the Effectiveness of Non-Surgical Treatments

Researchers tested non-surgical treatments on more than 1,100 adult patients with periodontitis. After a thorough exam, each patient received scaling and root planing treatments. Patients were also instructed in proper oral care.

After three months, researchers checked the status of each patient’s gum pockets to determine how successful treatment had been. They found the treatments had been successful on 39% of their patients.

Treatment success depended in part on the locations of teeth. Molars were far more difficult to treat successfully than the front teeth, which is probably due to the hygienist’s inability to access those teeth.

Smoking, oral hygiene routines, and diet also played a role in the patient’s overall success with non-surgical treatments for periodontitis. These were factors in treatment that cannot be easily measured or controlled.


Although non-surgical treatments are not guaranteed to resolve all cases of periodontitis, they can still be a good contributing measure for restoring oral health. When considering treatments like scaling and root planing, the patient should also be prepared to engage in proper hygiene measures to prevent the return of gum disease.

More extreme cases of periodontitis will most likely benefit from a combination of treatments that includes surgery. All treatment should be guided by a dentist with the experience and equipment necessary to eradicate the bacteria that lead to gum disease.

Whatever stage of gum disease you may be experiencing, you should consult your dentist right away. Treating gum disease can prevent more serious dental issues and help you keep your teeth.

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