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Gum Disease - Treatment Overview

Early treatment of gum disease is very important. The goals of treatment are to prevent gum disease from permanently damaging tissues, control infection, and prevent tooth loss. For treatment to be effective, you will need to:

  • Keep your teeth clean by brushing two times a day and flossing one time a day.
  • See your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
  • Avoid all tobacco use. Tobacco decreases your ability to fight infection, interferes with healing, and makes you more likely to have serious gum disease that results in tooth loss.

Treatment for mild gum disease

If you have a milder type of gum disease (gingivitis ), you may be able to reverse the damage to your gums:

  • Brush your teeth two times a day, in the morning and before bedtime.
  • Floss your teeth one time a day.
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash, such as Listerine, or an antiplaque mouthwash.

For more information on how to care for your teeth, see:

Dental Care: Brushing and Flossing Your Teeth.

Your dentist will want to see you for regular checkups and cleanings. Professional cleaning can remove plaque and tartar that brushing and flossing missed. After you have had gum disease, you may need to see your dentist every 3 or 4 months for follow-up.

Your dentist may prescribe 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.

Treatment for advanced gum disease

Milder types of gum disease (gingivitis) that are not treated promptly or that do not respond to treatment can progress to advanced gum disease (periodontitis ). Periodontitis requires prompt treatment to get rid of the infection and stop damage to the teeth and gums, followed by long-term care to maintain the health of your mouth.

  • Your dentist or dental hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar both above and below your gum line. This procedure, called root planing and scaling, makes it harder for plaque to stick to the teeth.
  • Your dentist may give you antibiotics to kill bacteria and stop the infection. They may be put directly on the gums, swallowed as pills or capsules, or inserted into the pockets in your gums.
  • You may need surgery if these treatments don't control the infection or if you already have severe damage to your gums or teeth. Surgery options may include:
    • Gingivectomy, which removes and reshapes loose, diseased gum tissue to get rid of the pockets between the teeth and gums where plaque can build up.
    • A flap procedure, which cleans the roots of a tooth and repairs bone damage.
    • Extraction, to remove loose or severely damaged teeth.
  • After surgery, you may need to take antibiotics or other medicines to aid healing and prevent infection.

After treatment, you will need to keep your mouth disease-free by preventing plaque buildup. You will need to brush carefully and thoroughly after all meals and snacks and floss daily. Your dentist will probably prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash.

Your dentist will schedule follow-up appointments regularly for cleaning and to make sure that the disease has not returned.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 05, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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