Periodontic therapy is used to treat microbial infections of the teeth. When bacteria and plaque are allowed to accumulate beneath the gums, the result can be painful inflammation, bleeding, receding gums, bone loss, and even tooth loss. Fortunately, there are various options available to help treat and prevent bacterial accumulations within and around the teeth and gums – all of which are used with the goal of preserving as much of the natural tooth structure as possible.
Scaling and Root Planing
When plaque and bacteria accumulate along the gum line, it can lead to inflammation. Over time, the bacteria may move beneath the gums, causing the gum tissue to recede or pull away from the teeth. This condition – known as periodontal disease – can be treated through a process called scaling and root planning.
Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical professional cleaning beneath the gums and along the gum line. During the procedure, a local anesthetic may be administered for your comfort. The first phase of the treatment – scaling – involves the removal of all plaque and tartar from the teeth and any affected surfaces beneath the gums. Next, the root surfaces are polished and smoothed (planing) to prevent recurrences of plaque and bacteria accumulation in the future.
Following the procedure, the gums should begin to heal and reattach to the teeth, closing the gaps that once existed between the gum tissue and the teeth. In many cases, scaling and root planing is enough to successfully treat periodontal disease, although severe cases may require additional intervention.
Prescription Mouth Rinse
A prescription mouth rinse can help prevent bacteria accumulation along the gum line by suppressing microbial growth. Antiseptic mouthwashes may be used at home or applied in the office depending on the areas of concern and the type of medicated mouthwash being prescribed. Prescription mouth rinses can include different types of active ingredients, some of which include chlorhexidine, povodine iodine, and sodium hypochloride. It is important to note, however, that mouth rinses only work above the surface of the gums. They are often used to irrigate pockets between the gums and teeth, as well as to prevent recurring infections.
Localized antibiotics are sometimes used to treat periodontal infections in areas that have proved difficult to treat or that have not sufficiently responded to other treatment methods. For example, a patient who has undergone scaling and root planing may continue to have recurring infections in ‘problem areas’. In these cases, a dentist may prescribe localized antibiotic therapy, which involves the topical application of antibiotic medication.
A localized antibiotic – usually tetracycline – must be applied by a professional, as the treatment sites are often located in difficult-to reach areas. Before the antibiotics are applied, the treatment area is thoroughly cleaned. This allows the antibiotic to reach the infection site and stop the progression of inflammation and bone loss. In some cases, localized antibiotics can even facilitate the healing of diseased tissues, helping to reverse some of the effects periodontal disease may have had on the gums.
Waterpik is an innovative technology that makes flossing simple and effective. It takes only a minute, but it can quickly and easily remove plaque and bacteria between the teeth and along the gum line by projecting a fine, pressurized stream of water directly into hard-to-reach areas that are often susceptible to microbial infection. Lab studies have shown that Waterpik removes up to 99.9 percent of plaque from the teeth.
Waterpik may be recommended to help maintain tooth and gum health following periodontal treatment. It may also be recommended as a means of improving upon an existing oral health routine and preventing an initial periodontal infection from occurring.