Gum Disease - Topic Overview
How is gum disease diagnosed?
To find out if you have gum disease, your dentist or dental hygienist will do an exam to look
- Bleeding gums.
- Hard buildups of
plaque and tartar above and below the gums.
- Areas where your gums
are pulling away or shrinking from your teeth.
- Pockets that have
grown between your teeth and gums.
Your dentist or dental hygienist may take X-rays of your
teeth to look for bone damage and other problems.
How is it treated?
Early treatment of
gum disease is very important. It can help prevent permanent gum damage, control
infection, and prevent tooth loss. For treatment to work:
- Brush your teeth 2 times a day and floss
1 time a day.
- See your dentist regularly for checkups and
- Don't smoke or use any tobacco products.
For gingivitis, your dentist may
antibiotics to help fight the infection. They can be
put directly on the gums, swallowed as pills or capsules, or swished around your teeth as mouthwash. Your dentist may also recommend an antibacterial
toothpaste that reduces plaque and gingivitis when used regularly.
periodontitis, your dentist or dental hygienist may clean your teeth using a
method called root planing and scaling. This removes the plaque and tartar
buildup both above and below the gum line.
You may need surgery if
these treatments don't control the infection or if you have severe
damage to your gums or teeth. Surgery options include:
- Gingivectomy to get rid of the pockets
between the teeth and gums where plaque can build up.
flap procedure to clean the roots of a tooth and
repair bone damage.
- Extraction to remove loose or very
After surgery, you may need to take antibiotics or other medicines to aid healing and prevent infection.
After treatment, keep your mouth
disease-free by brushing and flossing to prevent plaque buildup. Your dentist will
probably prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash.
How can you prevent gum disease?
Gum disease is most common in adults, but it can affect anyone, even
children. So good dental habits are important throughout your life.
- Brush your teeth 2 times a day, in the morning and before
bedtime, with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss once each
- Visit your dentist for regular checkups and teeth
- Don't use tobacco products.