For many patients with periodontal disease, surgery isn’t the first or only treatment option available. Depending on how advanced your gum disease is, a non-surgical treatment might be sufficient to reverse the disease and leave you with a healthier mouth. Non-surgical treatments for gum disease include deep cleaning the mouth, using antibacterial products and follow-up care to monitor the disease.
Deep Cleaning: Scaling
A dental specialist commonly diagnoses periodontal disease by measuring the depth of pockets between the gum and teeth. People who don’t have gum disease typically have pockets that are less than 3 mm deep. Pockets with a depth of more than 4 mm are a sign of gum disease, as the gum has started to pull away from the tooth. The tartar and plaque that collect in deep pockets isn’t removed by brushing or flossing alone.
You’ll need to see a dentist or periodontal specialist, such as Dr. Gallardo & Dr. Lamas, to remove built-up plaque and tartar from below the gum line, in the pockets. The first part of a deep cleaning is known as scaling. Your dentist will typically use either a manual scraping tool to remove the tartar or an ultrasonic device to clear away the tartar and plaque. An ultrasonic scaler vibrates, which helps to break up the calculus. After using an ultrasonic scaler, a dentist typically finishes the process using a hand-held scraper.
Depending on how sensitive your gums are, a periodontist might use a local anesthetic to numb the area. Patients with gum disease usually have gums that are more sensitive and will experience more pain without the anesthetic. Numbing them makes the procedure almost completely painless.
Non-surgical treatment for gum disease also typically involves root planing. The goal of root planing is two-fold. It removes tartar and bacterial toxins from the root’s surface, leaving a smooth area. When the root surface is smoothed, it’s more difficult for tartar to build up and for bacteria to collect there. After planing, the gums have a good chance of healing and reconnecting to the tooth, helping to reduce the size of the pockets and reverse the course of the disease.
Along with deep cleaning the teeth and gums, a periodontist will also typically prescribe some type of antibacterial treatment. The treatment kills the bacteria in the gums and mouth, allowing for healing. Several types of antibiotics exist for treating gum disease.
Dentists can place an antibacterial chip or gel in the gum pockets after completing scaling and root planing. The chip or gel contains an antibiotic that is released into the gums over time, killing any bacteria that remains. As the gel or chip releases its antibiotic, it breaks down and will eventually dissolve completely.
A Miami dental specialist can prescribe an antibacterial mouth rinse to a patient after deep cleaning instead of the chip or gel. You use the mouth rinse as you would a typical mouthwash, except it contains an antibiotic that controls and fights any bacteria remaining in your mouth. Your dentist might also prescribe an oral antibiotic instead of mouthwash or the gel or chip.
Follow-Up Care and Treatment
A single deep cleaning might be sufficient to reverse gum disease, but you can’t ignore the health of your teeth and gums afterwards. You should follow up with your periodontist several times a year. During follow-up visits, your periodontist will typically measure the depth of your periodontal pockets to make sure that they are shrinking. If your pockets remain deeper than 3 mm, you might need surgery or more extensive treatment.
Along with seeing your periodontist regularly, it’s essential that you care of your teeth at home. Brush and floss regularly, at least twice a day. If you smoke, it’s a good idea to quit as smoking increases your risk for gum disease and makes treatment less effective.
If you are concerned about gum disease and want to explore treatment options that don’t require surgery, contact Gallardo & Lamas, periodontal specialists in Miami, Florida. Call the office at (305) 447-1447 for a >consultation today.