Gum diseases are treated in a variety of ways depending on the stage of disease. Treatments range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery that restores supportive tissues.
Professional dental cleaning. During a typical checkup our skilled team of dental hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar (plaque that builds up and hardens on the tooth surface and which can only be removed with professional cleaning) from above and below the gum line of all your teeth.
Scaling and root planing. This is a deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedure, done under a local anesthetic, whereby plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planing). Smoothing the rough spots removes bacteria and provides a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth. Scaling and root planing are done when you have plaque and calculus (hardened plaque, also called tartar) under the gums that needs to be removed.
In some patients, nonsurgical scaling and root planing is all that is needed to treat gum diseases. Surgery is needed when the tissue around your teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with nonsurgical options. Chlorhexidine (a prescription-only brand such as Peridex) is an antimicrobial used to control plaque and gingivitis in the mouth or in periodontal pockets. The medication is available as a mouth rinse or as a gelatin-filled chip that is placed in pockets after root planing and which releases the medication slowly over about 7 days. Other antibiotics, including doxycycline, tetracycline, and minocycline (Arestin) may also be used to treat gum disease. In addition, nonprescription toothpaste that contains fluoride and an antibiotic to reduce plaque and gingivitis, called triclosan (i.e. Colgate Total), is usually recommended.