Gum disease is also called periodontal disease. It is mainly caused by bacteria. Some of these bacteria are Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and Porphyromonas gingivalis. Both bacteria appear to cause aggressive periodontal disease. And, between the two, P. gingivalis has the tendency to double the risk for serious gum disease.
Other gum disease risk factors include smoking, hormonal change in men/women, diabetes, stress, medications, illnesses, and genetic susceptibility. People in between ages 30 to 40 are at high risk of acquiring gum disease. Periodontitis, a type of gum disease, happens more in men than in women.
Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis, the mild kind of gum disease, is not treated. In periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth and form "pockets" that are infected. If the gum disease is left untreated, the teeth become destroyed. Sometimes, if the disease is severe, the rotting teeth have to be removed by a dentist.
To stop periodontitis or gum disease you can consider the following effective treatments:
- Scaling. This procedure can be done without local anesthesia. This is the thorough removal of all plaque and tartar that are causing the infection below the gum line. This operation is more extensive and time-consuming than the usual routine cleaning.
- Root Planing. This smoothens the surface of the teeth. Local anesthesia is applied since the root of the tooth is sensitive. Scaling and root planing can be accompanied by medications prescribed by your dentist. Such medications will stop the proliferation of bacteria in your mouth, lessen the negative results of gum recession, and regulate enzyme production.
- Prescription Antimicrobial Mouthrinse. This reduces bacteria count. It inhibits pathogenic bacterial action in dental biofilm. This is used like a regular mouthwash and is often prescribed as treatment after tooth scaling and root planing.
- Antiseptic “Chip”. This is a dentist’s tool to reduce the effects of the receding gums. This speeds up the healing process after root planing. The antiseptic “chip” is placed in the infected pockets left behind by the tooth and then gradually releases chlorhexidine, which cleanses and disinfects the affected area. Chlorhexidine is effective against bacteria, fungi, yeast, and viruses. The antiseptic chip helps in minimizing the size of the pockets.
- Antibiotic Gel. It is placed in the pockets after scaling and root planing. For about seven days, the antibiotic is released slowly. This is done to control bacteria growth and reduce the size of periodontal pockets. The gel contains doxycycline, a strong antibiotic.
- Antibiotic Micro-spheres. These help in controlling bacteria growth and reducing the size of periodontal pockets. The periodontist, the dental specialist for periodontitis, puts the micro-spheres in the pockets after the process of scaling and root planning are done. The particles of the antibiotic micro-spheres release minocycline slowly over time.
- Enzyme Suppressant. This holds back the body’s enzyme response. The body’s enzymes react to and fight with the bacteria. Bacterial toxins, as well as the body enzymes that fight the infection, can cause the break down of the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place. If the situation is left unattended, the bones, gums and connective tissue that support the teeth will rot. The teeth will eventually become loose.
The foregoing treatments are known to be very effective in stopping gum disease. However, in some severe cases, surgical treatment may be more advisable.