For a complex and potentially devastating infection such as gum disease, the most effective treatment is one that is truly comprehensive and personalized. Your periodontist will work to study the ways that the disease has affected you, find the cause of the disease, and then completely eliminate the source of the infection.
Since gum disease is most often found to be caused by a bacterial infection nestled safely at the bottom of the pockets or spaces between the teeth and under the gums, it is first necessary to have a very thorough cleaning procedure performed. Scaling and root planing is the procedure that allows your periodontist and hygienist to access the deepest crevices beneath the gums in order to physically remove the biofilm of plaque and tarter that conceals the bacteria.
In the absence of toxic bacterial colonies, the gums can begin healing and the destruction of the jaw bone and gum tissue can cease. However, the bacteria that are naturally present inside of the mouth will soon begin to make a home within the pockets of the gums, even after the completion of the scaling and root planing procedure. To prevent the accumulation of new bacteria in a pocket that is trying to heal, antibiotics are sometimes the recommended course of treatment.
For a short period of time (usually a few weeks) antibiotics can help to control the bacteria in the pockets and allow the gums a chance for proper healing. If the gum infection is widespread, you may receive a prescription for pills, and the antibiotic therapy would be considered systemic. If the infection is limited to only a few pockets in specific areas, an antibiotic gel or powder might be placed directly into the affected area to control the bacteria.
This form of antibiotic therapy works best in conjunction with the periodontal procedures that are performed in the dental office and your very best oral hygiene efforts at home. It’s a combination approach that has been proven to yield better results than a simple cleaning or brushing alone.