Gum Treatment/ Periodontal Disease

The word periodontal means “around the tooth”.  Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth.  We do not yet know the precise mechanism, but we do know that bacteria invade and the jawbone resorbs.  Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva.  If plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar).  When plaque and calculus are not removed, they can destroy the gums and bone.  Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.

Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it!  Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.  It is an inflammatory condition, just like high blood pressure or diabetes.  Neither of those diseases hurt until the problem has become more severe, such as when you have chest pain or nerve damage.

Not only is gum disease the number one reason for tooth loss, researchers have found a link between periodontal disease and other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and increased problems during pregnancy.  

You can reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease by practicing good oral hygiene, eating a balanced diet, seeing your dentist regularly. The unfortunate paradox is that aging makes us more susceptible to gum disease (along with many other conditions) but also decreases our ability to maintain good oral hygiene.

Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:

Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
Loose teeth – Bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that connect the tooth to the jawbone) can loosen teeth.
New spacing between teeth 
Persistent bad breath 
Pus around the teeth and gums 
Receding gums 
Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.

Education & Prevention

As a practice, we are true believers that preventative care and education are the keys to optimal dental health.  We strive to provide “dental health care” vs. “disease care”.  That’s why we focus on thorough exams – checking the overall health of your teeth and gums, performing oral cancer exams, and taking x-rays when necessary.  We also know that routine cleanings, flossing, sealants, and fluoride are all helpful in preventing dental disease.  Patients with periodontal disease need more frequent cleanings to stay healthy.  Not only are we focused on the beauty of your smile, we’re also concerned about your overall health.  A review of your medical history can help us stay informed of your overall health, any new medications, and any illnesses that may impact your dental health.

Training & Expertise

As the premier dentist in Boulder, we want you to be confident knowing that we are a team of highly trained and skilled clinicians.  We pride ourselves in providing the care you need to keep your smile healthy.  To give you the best possible service and results, we are committed to continual education and learning.  We attend dental lectures, meetings, and dental conventions to stay informed of new techniques, the latest products, and the newest equipment that a modern dental office can utilize to provide state-of-the-art dental care.  Additionally, we are members of various professional dental associations, which helps us to stay abreast of the changes and recommendations for our profession.

Antibiotic treatments

Antibiotic treatments for periodontal disease come in several different types, depending on the situation.  Research has shown that in certain instances, antibiotic treatments are incredibly effective.

Antibiotics can be prescribed at a low dose for longer term use or as a short term medication to deter bacteria from re-colonizing in specific cases.  For the average patient, however, antibiotics are most effective when applied directly to the gum tissue. 

We prefer delivering antibiotics directly to the surface of the gums for two reasons.  First, it is usually more effective since antibiotics in pill form have a tougher time reaching the oral bacteria.  Secondly, when we take medications, other areas of the body are affected unintentionally as well.  In the case of antibiotics, this can cause gastrointestinal problems as well as increased resistance to the medication. 

We most commonly use a product called Arestin®. This minocycline antibiotic comes in mini capsules which are delivered into the pocket between the tooth and gums after scaling and root planing.

We have also seen excellent results with a product called PerioProtect.  We take a digital scan of your mouth (no goopy impressions!) to fabricate custom-made trays.  The trays are designed to create a seal at the gumline and are filled with an antibacterial hydrogen peroxide gel.  The seal on the trays helps deliver the gel into the gum tissue and pockets surrounding the teeth, killing harmful bacteria and softening tartar.  Depending on the severity of the gum disease, we will make a determination for how often you should wear the trays for maximum benefit.

If you have any questions about periodontal disease or antibiotic treatments, contact our practice at your convenience.