Gum Treatment/ Periodontal Disease

The word periodontal means “around the tooth”.  Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth.  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 begin to 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.

Not only is it the number one reason for tooth loss, research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases such as, stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy.  Researchers are determining if inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affects these systemic diseases and conditions.  Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:

Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
Pus around the teeth and gums – Sign that there is an infection present.
Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
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.  Not only are we focused on the beauty of your smile, we’re also concerned about your 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 your dental health professionals, 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.  Also, being members of various professional dental associations helps us to stay abreast of the changes and recommendations for our profession.

Antibiotic treatments

Antibiotic treatments come in several different types, including oral forms and topical gels which are applied directly into the gum pockets.  Research has shown that in the case of acute periodontal infection, refractory periodontal disease, prepubertal periodontal disease and juvenile periodontal disease, antibiotic treatments have been 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.

Oral Antibiotics

Oral antibiotics tend to affect the whole body and are less commonly prescribed than topical gel.  Here are some specific details about several different types of oral antibiotics:

Tetracycline antibiotics – Antibiotics which include tetracycline hydrochloride, doxycycline, and minocycline are the primary drugs used in periodontal treatment.  They have antibacterial properties, reduce inflammation and block collagenase (a protein which destroys the connective tissue).
Macrolide antibiotics – This group of antibiotics has proven effective at reducing inflammation and can also reduce bacterial growth associated with periodontitis.
Metronidazole – This antibiotic is generally used in combination with amoxicillin or tetracycline to combat inflammation and bacterial growth in severe or chronic periodontitis.

Topical Gels and Strips

The biggest advantage of directly delivering antibiotics to the surface of the gums is not affecting the entire body.  Topical gels and direct delivery methods tend to be preferred over their oral counterparts and are extremely effective when used after scaling and root planing procedures. Here are some of the most commonly used direct delivery antibiotics:

Atridox® – This doxycycline gel conforms to the contours of gum surfaces and solidifies over them. Over several days, this gel gradually releases the antibiotic medication.
PerioChip® – This chip is placed into the actual gum pocket after a root planing procedure.  PerioChip® slowly releases Chlorhexidine, a powerful antibacterial antiseptic. PerioChip® reduces pocket depth in most periodontitis cases.
Actisite® – This thin strip is similar to dental floss and contains tetracycline hydrochloride. The thread is temporarily placed between the tooth and gum to kill bacteria and reduce pocket depth.  Several threads are sometimes placed for around 10 days to enhance the antibiotic effect.
Elyzol® – This metronidazole antibiotic comes in gel and strip form. It is unique because it is able to destroy parasites as well as oral bacteria.
Arestin® – This Minocycline antibiotic comes in mini capsules which are delivered into the gums after scaling and root planing.

Noticeable periodontal improvements are usually seen after systemic or oral antibiotic treatment. We will incorporate antibiotic treatments as necessary for the healing of your periodontal condition.

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