Spitting blood after tooth-brushing, discoloration of the gums and bad breath are a few symptoms of gum disease, the mildest form of which is gingivitis. Often, gingivitis does not cause any pain, but if left untreated, it can progress to a more serious and painful gum disease called periodontitis, with the risk of tooth loss, abscesses and destruction of the jawbone around the teeth.
If gingivitis is caught in its early stages, it is straightforward to treat, and good dental hygiene can prevent any future occurrence. There are a number of ways of treating gum disease, which differ depending on the severity and specific nature of the condition.
When dental plaque hardens into tartar next to the gum line, it can form a breeding ground for bacteria that attack the gums. It is not possible to remove tartar at home; a trip to the dental hygienist is necessary to have it removed. What the patient can do at home is take preventative measures to prevent tartar formation. This involves regular brushing and flossing to remove plaque. If the patient smokes, quitting will reduce the risk of further tartar buildup.
Your dentist may recommend a chlorhexidine-based mouthwash, or a chlorhexidine spray or gel for more topical application. Also, a dentist may recommend a chlorhexidine spray after dental surgery as a temporary substitute for tooth-brushing where the patient cannot easily do so.
Chlorhexidine products are available over the counter at the pharmacy, and many people choose to self-medicate with these products rather than visit their dentist, for financial reasons or because of dental phobia. It is a powerful anti-bacterial agent which adheres strongly to the teeth and gums and is not easily washed away. However, a side effect of chlorhexidine is that it can stain the teeth brown and be difficult to remove. It may be necessary to visit your dentist for a scale and polish after a course of chlorhexidine.
These may be topically applied or provided in pill form. General-purpose antibiotics such as penicillin and doxycycline can be used against oral bacteria, and if an abscess has formed in the mouth, this is the preferred course of treatment.
Gum tissue graft surgery This is an expensive procedure and only recommended in extreme situations. If the gums have receded to the point where the roots of the teeth are in danger of becoming exposed, it is likely that the patient will be referred to a periodontal specialist to discuss this option. Tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth, or from gums surrounding the affected area, and grafted onto the receded gum tissue. It takes a couple of weeks to fully recover from this surgery, and the patient will have to watch what he or she eats and follow specific dental hygiene advice from the dentist in that post-surgery period.
For more information, contact a local dental clinic like All Smiles Dental Centre.