Gum disease is one of the most common dental diseases, but it is also one of the most treatable. The way that gum disease is treated will vary depending on the stage of the condition. Here is an explanation of three methods that are used to treat gum disease.
Scaling and Planing
The primary cause of gum disease is plaque that builds up around the base of the teeth as a result of poor dental hygiene, smoking, genetics, and other factors. This plaque eventually hardens to form a substance known as tartar. Tartar cannot be removed by normal brushing and flossing both because of its hardness and because most of the tartar is below the gum line.
While gum disease is in its early stage known as gingivitis, it can be treated by removing tartar below the gumline and maintaining good dental hygiene. Dentists can remove tartar by administering local anesthesia and using a process known as scaling and planing. First, a small hand scraper is used to remove plaque and tartar just above the gum line. A root planer is then used to reach below the gum line and scrape away tartar around the roots of the teeth.
As gum disease progresses, it can cause enough damage to the gums that extra protection from bacterial buildup is required. In these cases, dentists will often provide antibiotics to fight the bacteria produced by plaque and tartar.
Antibiotics for gum disease are available in two forms. In most cases, your dentist will prescribe an antibiotic mouthwash for you to use on a daily basis. For more advanced damage, your dentist may insert antibiotic gelatin chips in the dental pockets after planing.
Pocket Reduction Surgery
If gum disease is left untreated, advanced periodontitis can develop that requires surgical treatment. Pocket reduction surgery is the most common surgical treatment method for this condition. The oral surgeon first pulls the gums back to expose the roots of the teeth. A scaling tool is then used to remove all tartar from the roots of the teeth.
Once the dental pockets are free of tartar, the gums are sutured and put back in place so that they fit more snugly around the roots of the teeth. This reduces the size of the dental pockets so that tartar has less room to build up around the teeth.
If you are experiencing swollen gums, pain while chewing food, or bleeding while brushing, talk with your dentist to determine if you have gum disease and find the right treatment for you.
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