Gum disease develops moderately over time, and may not necessarily show symptoms along the way. But this does not make it any less serious. A little soreness and redness on the gums can develop into pockets at the base of the teeth, which are filled with bacteria, causing your teeth to loosen and fall off.
In its early stages, gingivitis, which is the mildest form of periodontal disease, can be reversed with good oral hygiene habits such as brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleanings. However, once periodontitis sets in, it can’t be reversed, only managed.
That said, new treatments for periodontal disease are being developed all the time. Some of the most promising new treatments include the use of lasers to remove diseased tissue, the application of antimicrobial agents, and the use of growth factors to promote tissue regeneration. These treatments can be very effective at stopping the progression of periodontal disease and even reversing some of the damage that has already been done.
However, they are often more expensive than traditional treatments, and may not be covered by insurance.
Conventional treatments for periodontal disease
Good oral hygiene habits
When diagnosed with periodontal disease, your dentist will help you establish a proper at home oral care regimen to help you get your oral health back on track. This may include brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, tobacco cessation, consuming a healthy diet that is low in sugar and processed foods, managing any underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease that may contribute to the disease, and regular dental check-ups.
Deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, is the most common non-surgical treatment for periodontal disease. It involves removing tartar and plaque from below the gumline, smoothing out rough spots on the tooth’s roots, and cleaning the tooth’s pockets. This procedure helps to eliminate the bacterial infection and reduces inflammation.
In some cases, medication is used to treat periodontal disease. Antibiotics such as doxycycline can be prescribed to kill bacteria. Antiseptic mouthwash containing chlorhexidine can also be prescribed to kill bacteria.
Surgical treatments are recommended for severe cases of periodontal disease. Different types of surgeries include:
- Flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery: This procedure involves lifting the gum tissue and removing tartar and plaque from the roots of the teeth.
- Bone grafting: This procedure involves replacing the damaged bone with a graft to promote the regrowth of healthy bone.
- Soft tissue grafts: This procedure involves taking tissue from other parts of the mouth and grafting it onto the gum area to restore it.
Overall, the choice of treatment for periodontal disease depends on the severity of the condition. Early stages of gum disease can be treated with deep cleaning and medication, but advanced cases may require surgery
Your dentist or periodontist will work with you to create a customized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs.
New treatments for periodontal disease
Conventional treatment methods such as scaling and root planing, medication, and surgery have been effective in managing gum disease. However, there are several new treatments for periodontal disease that are being studied or have recently become available. These treatments aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of current treatment methods, and include:
Laser therapy involves the use of a laser to remove infected tissue and bacteria from the gums and promote healing. It is less invasive and more precise than traditional surgical methods. It can also be completed in a single visit, reducing the need for multiple appointments. Laser therapy is effective in removing bacteria and reducing inflammation but may not be suitable for all cases of gum disease.
Here are some scenarios where laser therapy may not be recommended:
- Periodontitis: In cases where the periodontal disease has advanced to the point where the gums have receded, exposing the roots of the teeth, laser therapy may not be effective in treating the disease.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as bleeding disorders or the use of blood thinners, may make laser therapy risky.
- Location of the teeth: If the teeth are difficult to access, such as those located in the back of the mouth, laser therapy may not be the best treatment option.
- Cost: Laser therapy can be more expensive than other treatment options, so it may not be a viable choice for some patients.
- Personal preference: Some patients may prefer traditional treatments or may be uncomfortable with the use of lasers for treatment.
This involves the use of antibiotics to target and eliminate bacteria that cause gum disease. The antibiotics can be taken orally, injected, or applied topically to the gums. Antibiotic therapy is effective in reducing inflammation and treating bacterial infections, but it is important to note that overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance.
Stem cell therapy
Stem cells are being studied as a potential treatment for periodontal disease. Researchers are exploring the use of stem cells to regenerate gum tissue and bone that have been lost due to the disease. The stem cells can be obtained from the patient’s own body or from a donor. Stem cell therapy is a promising approach to treating gum disease, as it can promote the regeneration of healthy tissue and reduce inflammation.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
This involves the use of a photosensitizing agent and a special light to kill bacteria that cause gum disease. The photosensitizing agent is applied to the gums and then exposed to a specific wavelength of light, which activates the agent and causes it to produce a type of oxygen that kills the bacteria. PDT is a minimally invasive procedure that can be completed in a single visit and has few side effects. However, its long-term effectiveness is still being studied, and it may not be suitable for all patients.
Microbial testing involves analyzing a patient’s oral bacteria to determine the specific types and amounts of bacteria present. This information can then be used to create a personalized treatment plan to target the specific bacteria causing the gum disease. Microbial testing is a more targeted approach that can help create an individualized treatment plan for patients. However, the testing process can be time-consuming and may not be covered by insurance.
While these treatments show promise, they are still being studied and may not be widely available or covered by insurance. These therapies may offer new options for the treatment of gum disease, but more research is needed to determine their long-term effectiveness and safety. Patients with gum disease should discuss these options with their periodontist to determine the best course of treatment for their individual needs, and maintain good oral hygiene habits to keep your teeth with periodontal disease.