Frequently asked questions about gum and bone disease also called
periodontal disease and STM
(Soft Tissue Management)
1. What is periodontal health?
2. What are the goals?
3. What is STM (Soft Tissue Management)?
4. What is the problem?
5. What is the background?
6. What do we look for in the examination?
7. What is the solution?
8. Will one treatment eliminate gum and bone disease?
9. What do we need to know before we start?
10. How do we know when to start and end treatment?
11. What does the outcome of treatment depend upon?
12. If pockets remain greater than 3mm what do we do?
13. What can you expect?
14. How can you help?
What is periodontal health?
1. Pink color to gingival tissue
2. Stippled appearance
3. Flat tight gingival tissue
4. No bleeding on probing
5. No odor
One of the goals of STM treatments is to obtain a healthy mouth or at least a significant reduction in the spread of gum and bone disease (periodontal disease). So when we find gum and bone disease our goal is simply to do the known treatments for gum and bone disease until we achieve the healthy condition described above.
What is STM (Soft Tissue Management)?
STM is a combined in office and at home treatment. It is based on research and thousands of treated patients over the past decade. The beginning stages of gum and bone disease can be recognized much earlier than before. We no longer have to wait until bone loss shows up on x-rays. By diagnosing periodontal disease at its earlier stages the treatment to reduce its effects are much easier and less invasive. Often gum surgery can be avoided or if needed progresses with better and faster healing.
What is the problem?
The problem is that 2/3rds of the adult American population have periodontal disease. There is no cure for gum and bone disease but we can slow it down and with a combined office and home treatment often get it under control.
What is the background?
After the age of 35 the primary cause of tooth loss is from gum and bone disease. For decades researchers have been looking for newer and more efficient treatments to reduce the effects of gum and bone disease. Of the numerous treatments that had been tried STM has become the first and best choice to treat gum and bone disease at its earlier stages.
What do we look for in the examination?
The most universal condition we look for is that the gum pockets between the teeth and gums are shallow. These pockets should be no deeper than three millimeters. Also, the gums should not bleed when gently probed by the hygienist or when brushing or flossing.
What is the solution?
The solution begins with the removal of tartar which is clinging to the teeth. The tartar is found both above and below the gum line. Once the tartar is removed and the surface of the tooth is smooth the gum tissue will start to tighten. Also, the color of the gum will turn to a lighter pink. The bleeding of the gums when brushing and with gentle probing should stop. As the gums heal the pockets will start to shrink. We are aiming for pockets of 3mm or less.
Will one treatment eliminate gum and bone disease?
Just as our bodies require repeated daily rounds of food and sleep our gums require repeated rounds of brushing. Also, as you know, our mouths require repeated cleanings. If periodontal disease develops, gum treatments and possibly gum surgery will be needed.
STM treatments are the in between gum treatment between a prophy (preventive cleaning) and gum surgery.
Similar to an individuals repetitious requirements for daily food and sleep each person’s mouth has a differing requirement for the frequency between prophys, STM treatments or gum surgery.
Also, as with food and the ability of ones digestive system a differing outcome may result when two people each eat the same food or with periodontal disease each persons mouth may have a differing success of healing.
What do we need to know before we start?
Before we commence STM treatment we need to know when to stop. What are we looking to accomplish? What are the signs that tell us enough improvement has been realized or that the disease has a significant slowdown?
How do we know when to start and end treatment?
This is accomplished with an examination where the depth of the pockets are recorded before and after healing. Whenever the pockets are no more than 3mm we wait and do preventive prophys. Whenever the pockets are greater than 3 mm we continue treatment.
What does the outcome of treatment depend upon?
The outcome of the STM treatment will be dependent primarily on five factors.
- The severity of the disease at the start
- The mechanics of the STM treatment itself
- The home care and diligence of the patient
- The hereditary factors involved
- The general health of the patient
If pockets remain greater than 3mm what do we do?
Continued treatment may be additional STM treatments, medications, or referral to a periodontal specialist.
What can you expect?
You can expect to have a healthier mouth. Your mouth will feel cleaner and fresher. You will learn what you can do at home to help reduce periodontal disease.
How can you help?
You can help by learning all you can about periodontal disease. Also by caring for your teeth and gums daily your mouth will become healthier.