Given the choice, would you rather have surgery or a non-surgical treatment to correct a problem with your health? If you’re like most people, you probably said “non-surgical!” The good news is that organizations such as the American Academy of Periodontology agree with you. Non-surgical, less invasive treatments are usually the preferred way to treat gum and bone disease and other oral health problems.
The non-surgical treatment for gum and bone disease that works best for you depends in large part on how advanced the condition is, your current health, and how you might have responded to other treatments in the past. If you have more questions about the treatment that’s best for you, the team at Klement Family Dental in St. Petersburg, Florida can help you choose an option that will meet your needs.
Here’s a rundown of the treatments commonly used for gum and bone disease.
In the earliest stages of gum and bone disease, known as gingivitis, all that might be needed to treat and reverse the condition is a good dental cleaning by a hygienist. A professional cleaning will remove plaque, a sticky film that contains bacteria. It also removes tartar, the hardened form of plaque.
While you can usually clear away plaque at home with regular brushing and flossing, tartar is more difficult to remove. If plaque turns into tartar, it often builds up below the gumline, irritating the gums and leading to the inflammation that’s a sign of gingivitis. Using special tools, a hygienist will scrape the plaque and tartar from the teeth and below the gumline. Depending on the stage of the gum and bone disease, a deeper cleaning might be needed.
Although the American Dental Association typically recommends twice a year cleanings to help prevent gum and bone disease and to reverse it in the earliest stages, people who are at a higher risk for the disease might need to see their hygienist for more frequent cleanings, 3 or 4 times a year.
A dentist might decide that treatment with an antibiotic, along with cleaning the teeth and gums, will help clear up the infection that can be contributing to a person’s gum and bone disease. Antibiotic medications are available in prescription mouth rinses. In some cases, a dentist might apply the antibiotic locally into the periodontal pockets, the spaces that form between the teeth and gums when an infection is present.
No matter what type of antibiotic your dentist prescribes, it’s important to keep using it for as long as prescribed to allow the infection to completely clear up.
Reducing Risk Factors for Gum and Bone Disease
Although not a treatment for gum and bone disease itself, reducing the risk factors that could contribute to the development or progression of the disease can help to keep it at bay. Risk factors for gum and bone disease include:
- Tobacco use. Smokers have twice the risk of gum disease as non-smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If you’re interested in quitting smoking, your dentist can provide resources and support.
- Diabetes. Gum and bone disease are more likely to occur in people with diabetes, perhaps due to the higher levels of sugar in the blood. Gum and bone disease can also make it more challenging for people with diabetes to keep their blood sugar under control. To reduce your risk for diabetes complications and gum disease, you can work with your dentist and family doctor.
- Pregnancy. Changes in your hormonal levels during pregnancy can raise your risk for gingivitis. If you’re pregnant, it’s important to check in with your dentist and hygienist for regular cleanings and check-ups.
- High stress levels. If you feel stressed a lot, that can make it more difficult for your body to fight off infection, raising your risk of gum and bone disease. Learning deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help you battle stress and lower your gum and bone disease risk.
An Ounce of Prevention
Along with identifying and reducing any risk factors for gum and bone disease, getting into the habit of or maintaining a good oral care routine at home will help to keep both your teeth and gums healthy. Remember to brush twice a day and floss as well. Using an alcohol-free mouthwash might also help to reduce your risk of infection in the mouth.
Your dentist and hygienists are here for you to answer any questions you have about gum and bone disease and to help you set up a routine that protects your mouth. If it’s been a while since your last cleaning, get in touch with Klement Family Dental in St. Petersburg, Florida today. We’re open six days a week and offer convenient morning and evening appointment times to fit your busy schedule.