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Gum and Teeth Health

There are a variety of treatments for gum disease depending on the stage of disease, how you may have responded to earlier treatments, and your overall health.

Treatments range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues.

Treatments for 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 planning 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 your dentist.

In addition, nonprescription toothpaste that contains fluoride and an antibiotic to reduce plaque and gingivitis, called triclosan, is often recommended.

Types of Gum Disease Include:

  • Gingivitis – The beginning stage of gum disease and is often undetected. This stage of the disease is reversible.
  • Periodontitis – Untreated gingivitis may lead to this next stage of gum disease. With many levels of periodontitis, the common outcome is chronic inflammatory response, a condition when the body breaks down the bone and tissue in the infected area of the mouth, ultimately resulting in tooth and bone loss.

Signs of Gum Disease Include:

  • Red, bleeding, and/or swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Mobility of the teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity caused by receding gums
  • Abscessed teeth
  • Tooth loss

Are Special Preparations Needed Before Treatment for Gum Disease?

Your dentist or periodontist is able to perform most procedures in his or her office. 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 to numb the treatment area may be given before some treatments. If necessary, a medication may be given to help you relax.

What’s the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

Gingivitis (gum inflammation) usually precedes periodontitis (gum disease). However, it is important to know that not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis.

In the early stage of gingivitis, bacteria in plaque buildup, causes the gums to become inflamed (red and swollen) and often easily bleed during tooth brushing. Although the gums may be irritated, the teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets. No irreversible bone or other tissue damage has occurred at this stage.

When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. In a person with periodontitis, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These small spaces between teeth and gums collect debris and can become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.

Toxins or poisons — produced by the bacteria in plaque as well as the body’s “good” enzymes involved in fighting infections — start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. When this happens, teeth are no longer anchored in place, they become loose and tooth loss occurs. Gum disease, in fact, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

If you want more information or want to be treated for gum diseases give your Minnesota Dentistry a call.

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