So, you have gum disease. Are you wondering what your options for gum treatment are? Well, thankfully, there are a variety of treatments available depending on the stage of the disease, how you may have responded to earlier treatments, and your overall health.
There are both surgical and non-surgical options for gum treatment available. Nonsurgical therapies control bacterial growth and surgical therapies restore supportive tissues.
Non-surgical Treatments for Gum Disease
If you are hoping to go the non-surgical route, here are some of your options:
- Professional dental cleaning. During a typical checkup your dentist or dental hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line of all teeth. If you have some signs of gum disease, we may recommend professional dental cleaning more than twice-a-year. While dental cleanings are not a treatment for active gum disease, they cn help prevent it!
- Scaling and root planing. This is a deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedure, done under a local anesthetic, where plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planing). Smoothing the rough spots removes bacteria and provides a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth. Scaling and root planing is done if we determine that you have plaque and tartar under the gums that needs to be removed.
Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease
If necessary, you may have to have surgery done. Here are some surgical gum treatment options:
- Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery. During this procedure, the gums are lifted back so that tarter can be removed. In some cases, irregular surfaces of the damaged bone are smoothed to limit areas where disease-causing bacteria can hide. The gums are then placed so that the tissue fits tightly around the tooth. This method reduces the gap between the gum and tooth, thereby decreasing the areas where harmful bacteria can grow and decreasing the chance of serious health problems associated with periodontal disease.
- Bone grafts. This procedure involves using fragments of your own bone, synthetic bone, or donated bone to replace bone destroyed by gum disease. The grafts serve as a platform for the regrowth of bone, which restores stability to teeth. New technology, called tissue engineering, encourages your own body to regenerate bone and tissue at an accelerated rate.
- Soft tissue grafts. This procedure reinforces thin gums or fills in places where gums have receded. Grafted tissue, most often taken from the roof of the mouth, is stitched in place, adding tissue to the affected area.
- Guided tissue regeneration. Performed when the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed, this procedure stimulates bone and gum tissue growth. Done in combination with flap surgery, a small piece of mesh-like fabric is inserted between the bone and gum tissue. This keeps the gum tissue from growing into the area where the bone should be, allowing the bone and connective tissue to regrow to better support the teeth.
- Bone surgery. Smoothens shallow craters in the bone due to moderate and advanced bone loss. Flap surgery must be done prior to bone surgery. After the flap surgery, the bone around the tooth is reshaped to decrease the craters. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to collect and grow.
In some patients, the nonsurgical procedure of scaling and root planing is all that is needed to treat gum disease. Surgery is necessary when the tissue around the teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with nonsurgical options.
Drugs Used to Treat Gum Disease
Antibiotic treatments can be used either in combination with surgery and other therapies, or alone, to reduce or temporarily eliminate the bacteria associated with gum disease or suppress the destruction of the tooth’s attachment to the bone.
Chlorhexidine (marketed as the prescription-only brands Peridex, PerioChip, PerioGard, and by numerous other over-the-counter trade names) is an antimicrobial used to control plaque and gingivitis in the mouth or in periodontal pockets. The medication is available as a mouth rinse or as a gelatin-filled chip that is placed in pockets after root planing and releases the medication slowly over about 7 days. Other antibiotics, including doxycycline, tetracycline, and minocycline may also be used to treat gum disease, as determined by Dr. Kirol.
In addition, we recommend a nonprescription toothpaste that contains fluoride and an antibiotic to reduce plaque and gingivitis, called triclosan.
Are Special Preparations Needed Before Treatment for Gum Disease?
The time needed to perform the procedure, your degree of discomfort, and time needed to heal will vary from patient to patient depending on the type and extent of the procedure and your overall health. Local anesthesia may be used to numb the treatment area. If necessary, a medication may be given to help you relax. Make an appointment with us today!