In the early stages of gum disease, a patient may experience inflammation and bleeding gums. In advanced stages of gum disease, oral bacteria can cause the destruction of the jaw bone and the periodontal ligament (PDL). The periodontal ligament plays an important role in your mouth and if it is not easily restored if gum disease goes untreated. Read on to learn more about this structure and how periodontal disease treatments can help protect the PDL.
Why Is the Periodontal Ligament Important?
The alveolar ridge, or jawbone, supports your gum tissues and contains tooth sockets. PDLs are located at the end of tooth roots and hold teeth in these bony sockets. PDLs are important structures as they absorb excess pressure from chewing and grinding teeth. If a person didn't have PDLs, then their enamel would be put under a lot of pressure and their teeth wouldn't be held securely in place.
PDLs are also incredibly flexible—they make orthodontic tooth movement possible since teeth aren't directly connected to bone. Periodontal ligaments are important because they transfer sensory information from the tooth through the tooth root. These forces tell the body to maintain alveolar bone cells and cementum cells.
When gum disease damages PDLs, it can cause teeth to become loose or even fall out. Thankfully, there are ways to correct damages from gum disease.
What Periodontal Treatments Can Help?
A dentist can help PDLs heal with scaling and root planing treatments, as well as flap surgery.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a commonly recommended treatment to prevent the spread of gum disease. If your PDLs aren't too damaged, then this could be a good treatment to nip the issue in the bud. Although scaling and root planing is a deeper cleaning procedure, it's less invasive than surgery. During this treatment, your dentist will use both manual instruments and ultrasonic instruments to remove plaque above and below the gumline. This treatment helps gum pockets shrink so that bacteria cannot get below the gumline and damage the PDL.
Flap Surgery with Graft
If you have a more advanced stage of gum disease, then flap surgery may be recommended. During this surgery, your dentist will make a flap-like incision around gum pockets to easily access tooth roots and PDLs. He or she will remove tartar and harmful bacteria before suturing the area closed. If there are bone defects or PDL defects, your dentist might place a grafting material to encourage these tissues to regenerate. Grafts might be synthetic or from a donor—but the goal is to repair the PDL enough so that teeth don't have to be extracted.
Reach out to a dentist in your area today to learn more.