If left undisturbed, plaque (bacteria) can harden to form calculus that is called tartar. Calculus above and below the gum must be completely removed in aim to treat gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (disease that has spread from gums to the underlying bone). The cornerstone to success is meticulous oral hygiene.
The gums form a tight cuff around the teeth. This cuff, if measured with a probe is 1 -3 mm in healthy conditions. A good treatment outcome can normally be achieved by deep cleaning of the teeth under local anaesthetic often referred to as Root Surface Debridement (RSD) or Non-surgical periodontal therapy if the periodontal pockets are < 4-5mm.
In the case of wide spread or severe periodontal disease, periodontal surgery may be required to gain access to the diseased site to stop further bone loss and regenerate lost bone where possible. In most cases a combination of surgical and non-surgical treatment is required for successful management of the disease.