Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common problem among people who neglect their oral hygiene. The mild form of gum disease, gingivitis, is manageable and treatable. However, full-blown gum disease is much more difficult to control. When gum disease takes root, the result can be the destruction of important bones and tissues that hold the teeth in place, eventually leading to tooth loss. While flossing and brushing twice a day are the best ways to prevent gum disease, the best treatments for gum disease are antibiotics, deep cleanings and scaling and root planning. Surgery is also an option when other forms of gum disease treatment fail. Learn more here about gum disease symptoms and top treatment options.
Gum disease symptoms often go undiagnosed for long periods of time. The early signs of gum disease are bleeding from the gums during brushing, bad breath and slightly inflamed gums. Over time, the gums become more dark red rather than pink, and bleeding and inflammation increase. The gums can also become painful or sensitive to the touch, and people may develop bad tastes in their mouths. Over time, the diseased gums will also start receding, and this damage can’t be undone. Sometimes gum disease happens all over the mouth; other times, gum disease only forms in certain parts of the mouth. The best way to get gum disease diagnosed early is by visiting a dentist on a regular basis.
When a person is diagnosed with gum disease, the first step of treatment is usually a deep cleaning to remove all the plaque that’s built up beneath the gum line and between teeth. This type of deep cleaning can only be done by a dental professional, and this should be repeated twice a year while symptoms persist. If deep cleanings combined with regular brushing and flossing don’t solve the problem, then the dentist may choose to inject antibiotics into the gums as a mean to kill off infection. The last non-surgical treatment option is scaling and root planning, which is another deep-cleaning procedure in spots above and below the gum line are smoothed, providing surfaces that are more likely to seal with the gum line.
If the above treatments fail to treat gum disease, then several surgical procedures can help. During flap surgery (or pocket reduction surgery), the gums are actually lifted back—allowing hard-to-reach plaque to be removed - and then replaced in such a way that pockets between the teeth and gums are made smaller. Bone grafts and soft tissue grafts can be used to either repair bones damaged by gum disease or reinforcing areas of the gums that have receded or grown thin. Bone surgery can reshape damaged structures around loosening teeth, and guided tissue regeneration can stimulate bone and tissue growth to better support teeth as well.
When caught early, people with gum disease can put an end to their symptoms with non-surgical treatments and a regular routine of brushing and flossing. However, the longer gum disease symptoms are ignored or undiagnosed, the more difficult complete treatment becomes. Talk to your dentist if you’re concerned about having the symptoms of gum disease.