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Periodontal (Gum) Disease Treatment

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a serious oral condition that needs to be attended to. Not only can it put you at risk for tooth and bone loss, but medical research has also found increasing evidence that many other medical conditions can be linked to, or further complicated by periodontal disease.

The best way to deal with periodontitis is not to get it at all. For those with gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, revisiting their home care technique with one of our hygienists can help get their oral hygiene routine back on track, and reverse the disease before it progresses.

For those who have been diagnosed with a more serious case of gum disease, Lanie Family Dentistry has treatments available. These include non-surgical and surgical options, depending on the severity of your periodontal disease. In all cases, the goal of treatment is to prevent bone loss and further damage, by removing bacteria and tartar from below the gum line and helping your gums heal.

In cases where periodontal disease hasn’t advanced too far, a non-surgical procedure known as scaling and root planing is typically recommended. This involves clearing away plaque and tartar from tooth root surfaces and smoothing them to make it harder for buildup to occur again.

Some surgical treatments for more advanced cases of periodontitis include gum recession treatments, bone grafting, and gum grafting, each of which are explained in more detail on their respective pages.

Once treated for gum disease, it’s recommended that you return to our office regularly for periodontal maintenance appointments which will help control your periodontal disease and prevent the problem from reoccurring.

If you have noticed that your gums are red or swollen, or if there is bleeding when you brush or floss, you may have gum disease. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lanie to assess the condition of your gums and learn what treatment options can help.

As gum disease results from a bacterial infection, one avenue of treatment is through antibiotics. These may be used alone or in combination with other treatments to help bring the infection under control.

Topical antibiotics may be applied directly to the gum pockets, especially useful after procedures such as root planing and scaling. Topical treatments have the advantage of being used directly at the site of infection, rather than being introduced to the entire body.

In other cases Dr. Lanie may recommend treatment via an oral antibiotic such as tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, or metronidazole. Tetracycline antibiotics are often chosen for their ability to reduce inflammation and block the types of proteins known for destroying connective tissues. 

Remember: Treatment via medication alone will not stop periodontal disease. While antibiotics are useful tools in controlling the infection, they need to be used in combination with regular cleanings and exams, along with an oral home care routine that keeps the area below the gum line free of the plaque bacteria that causes gum disease.

For those who have been treated for gum disease, it will likely be recommended that you come to our office for regular periodontal maintenance appointments. These appointments are typically done 3 to 4 times a year as the 2 to 3 times a year for regular cleanings.

You may wonder what the difference is between a regular dental cleaning and a periodontal cleaning.

The short version is that a professional cleaning, known as prophylaxis, is preventative care. Periodontal maintenance is a treatment.

Prophylaxis is done in cases where the teeth are healthy—there is no bone loss, infection around the teeth, or bleeding. Your dental hygienist will remove soft plaque, tartar, and stains from the portion of your teeth that are above the gum line, and only slightly below.

Those with periodontal disease can have tartar accumulating in gum pockets that extend more than 4mm below the gum line, exposing surfaces of the tooth root. For a periodontal maintenance appointment, your hygienist will remove this tartar and plaque further down to the tooth, to the point where the root, gum, and bone meet. Rough areas of the tooth may be smoothed to help prevent future accumulation of plaque, and, if necessary, the gum pockets may be irrigated with antibacterial medication. During these appointments, the depth of your gum pockets will be checked and recorded.

Periodontal maintenance is important to help continue to keep your gums healthy and prevent periodontal disease from worsening.

Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease or periodontitis, primarily affects the gums and tissues that hold the teeth in place. Even in healthy gums, the tops of the gums don’t attach directly to the root of the tooth. Instead, there’s a small space referred to as a sulcus. Bacteria and food particles can often collect here, and when not routinely cleared away through proper brushing and flossing, the infection can start here, resulting in inflammation. If gum disease goes untreated, the infection will spread deeper and begin to cause the gum tissues to separate further from the teeth. This results in the formation of periodontal pockets—small spaces between the gums and tooth roots where more bacteria can spread.

It’s important to treat gum disease, as it will eventually continue until the connective tissue that holds the teeth in place can no longer do its job, and tooth loss will result. Pocket irrigation is a likely course of treatment Dr. Lanie will recommend in addition to other treatments, depending on the severity of the gum disease.

What is pocket irrigation? 

Pocket irrigation often follows after scaling and planing treatment, where the exposed roots of the teeth are cleaned and smoothed to prevent further accumulation of plaque. Once this has been done, any remaining plaque or debris will be flushed out with a stream of water and/or an antibacterial agent. This helps to prevent further reinfection.  

Once gum pockets have developed, keeping them clean and free of bacteria will become an important part of your oral hygiene. Dr. Lanie may recommend a home oral irrigation tool such as a WaterPik to help with this. 

These can be useful for…

  • Cleaning spaces between teeth – Gum pockets and gum recession can make it harder to reach spaces between teeth with just a toothbrush
  • Preventing bad breath – The food particles and bacteria that are trapped in gum pockets can result in bad breath, as well as promote periodontal disease
  • Cleaning below the gum-line – In addition to brushing and flossing, oral irrigation can help catch any debris that might have been missed during your home care routine

If you use a WaterPik at home, be sure to discuss the proper use with our team to make sure you’re doing it correctly. 

For those diagnosed with early stages of periodontal disease, scaling and root planing is a non-surgical, minimally-invasive, and cost-effective treatment that can help get the disease under control.

Gum disease is the result of bacterial plaque hardening on the surface of teeth and releasing toxins that break down the tissues holding the gums, bones, and teeth together. Scaling and root planing, also sometimes referred to as a deep cleaning, involves removing this plaque from the surfaces of the root of the teeth and making it more difficult for the plaque to form in the future.

What does scaling and root planing involve?

This is a procedure that is recommended for those who have gum pockets that are greater than 3mm deep. Your hygienist or Dr. Lanie will first use a numbing gel to ensure you have minimal discomfort during the deep cleaning procedure. Various tools such as a scaler or ultrasonic cleaner will then be used to clear away tartar and plaque from the surfaces of your teeth, down into the bottom of each periodontal pocket. Following this, the planning process will smooth the surfaces of the tooth roots which makes it harder for plaque to form again. Additionally, this will help the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the roots.

Antimicrobial or antibiotic medications may also be administered in the periodontal pockets to help control infection.

After your treatment, follow-up appointments will be necessary to monitor the healing of your gums and ensure the gum pockets are reducing in size. You may also be required to have regular periodontal maintenance appointments to help keep the areas clear of tartar and plaque, and prevent gum recession from recurring.

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