Dental Care

Gum Disease Treatments

Which specific gum disease treatments do exist? You are probably aware that poor oral hygiene, certain medications, and even underlying medical conditions can lead to gum problems. 

The initial phase of gum disease is called gingivitis.  As gingivitis worsens, it can lead to periodontitis. 

It is true that untreated gingivitis does not always progress to periodontitis.  However, it is a medical certainty that people with periodontitis have always developed gingivitis as a precursor.

That means whenever you notice inflammation, soreness, bleeding, or redness of the gums, you should see your dentist.  

Your dentist might determine that he can deliver treatment himself, or he might refer you to a specialist called a periodontist

The word for that type of specialist literally means "around the tooth."  You can rest assured that a periodontist knows the most up-to-date techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease.

Gum Disease Treatments for Gingivitis

The good news is that gingivitis is easily treatable. Most gingivitis is caused by the accumulation of plaque, and so the first line of defense is a good, thorough cleaning! 

In more progressive cases of gum disease treatments, your dentist will perform a deep cleaning that involves procedures called scaling and possibly root planing.

The dentist performs scaling by scraping tartar, which is hardened plaque, off the teeth both above and below the gum line.  He uses finely curved tools of various lengths to reach below and literally scrape the tartar and bacterial toxins away. 

Scaling can also involve the use of an ultrasonic instrument, which uses sound waves to blast away tartar.  It doesn't hurt at all, but you will notice a humming vibration. Sometimes the dentist will use the ultrasonic instrument and then follow it up with the scaling tool.

Lasers are also becoming more common in the dentist's office as a preventive gum disease treatment.  They used to be too expensive for use in dental cleaning when other means were available, but with the costs coming down in recent years their use is growing.

The dentist applies an appropriate wavelength and power to knock plaque and tartar away from the teeth, much like ultrasound.  The laser also emits heat that helps to destroy bacteria in the area.

Unlike the ultrasound equipment, it is possible with a laser to use a setting too high, which will result in damage to periodontal tissues.  But you should feel comfortable that your dentist is familiar with the equipment he is using. 

As standard part of these gum disease treatments the teeth and gums are rinsed thoroughly afterward to remove any residual pieces.  Both the ultrasound and laser tools offer less trauma to sensitive gums, reducing the likelihood of swollen or bleeding tissues after the cleaning. 

In addition, the dentist will perform some root planing. In this procedure he uses a tool that will smooth the roots of your teeth so that they are less likely to accumulate plaque and tartar in the future. 

But you have to do your part by sticking to a regular oral hygiene regimen!

In some cases your dentist might prescribe a medication such as metronidazole.  The best known brand name for this is Flagyl, and it is useful for treating bacteria that thrive even without oxygen, known as anaerobic bacteria. 

Your dentist -or the hygienist- will also spend some time with you ensuring that you understand the need to floss.  He or she will help you practice effective flossing techniques. 

You will also be advised to follow up this visit with one or two mouth rinses daily using something like hydrogen peroxide.  It will protect your gums, more vulnerable after all this gum disease treatments, from infection. 

Gum Disease Treatments for Periodontitis

If your dentist has treated you with scaling and planing as well as medications and your problem persists, he will resort to surgery

For this procedure, with your mouth totally numb, the periodontist cuts flaps into your gums and scrapes away all tartar plus all pockets of infected tissue and bacterial toxins.  When he is finished, he places stitches in your gum tissues; as they heal, your gums will draw closely around your teeth once again. 

In extreme cases, the periodontist might recommend bone grafting.  Most often he will take small amounts of bone right from your own jaw and use it to fill in a space where bone has been destroyed by your gum disease.

In some cases he will place a tiny piece of mesh inside the gum tissue so that it cannot grow where the bone needs to regenerate. 

Your periodontist should be glad to help you find another professional to give you a second opinion on this gum disease treatments before you have this procedure done.


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