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Are Antibiotics Replacing the Need for Gum Surgery?

Don't be fooled by the findings.

Results of a recent study that reported the use of antibiotics to treat severe gum disease cases without surgery may sound encouraging to people who know they have gum disease, but don't be fooled, cautions the Academy of General Dentistry.

The study lacks statistics on the effectiveness of antibiotics as well as their side effects should cause patients to throughly discuss all treatment options with their dentist. Each case is different.

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection that can grow progressively worse and endanger the teeth when left untreated. An increasing number and mix of antibiotics are available to help treat the disease, sometimes in combination with a procedure called scaling and root planing. This procedure is performed by the dentist to clean periodontal pockets. These pockets are caused by toxins released and produced by the bacteria in plaque which breakdown the fibers that hold the gums tightly to the teeth. Scaling and root planing is designed to smooth root surfaces and arrange gum tissue so it is easier to keep clean.

In severe cases, surgery is performed to remove the hardened plaque build-up. Gum surgery involves cutting and lifting back the gums to remove plaque.

Patients should take several steps to reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease. In addition to regular six-month dental checkups, Howard S. Glazer , DDS, FAGD, stresses that to prevent gum disease, all patients should practice proper home oral hygiene practices, including rinsing and brushing your teeth after every meal and before bedtime, and flossing at least once a day, preferably before bedtime.

"Early intervention is the key to fighting periodontal disease," Dr. Glazer adds. "If you notice any bleeding or puffy gums or tenderness in those areas, see your dentist soon."

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