If you’ve been told that you have periodontal disease, the first step in treatment will be scaling and root planing. The goal of periodontal treatment is to clean the pockets and root surface thoroughly of bacteria and tartar (calculus), and to prevent more damage and bone loss from occurring.
For many patients, this, along with good home care and regular ongoing maintenance, will do the trick to improve oral health and maintain it for a lifetime. However, in certain cases of periodontal disease, it may not be enough.
Antibiotics can be a useful tool in conjunction with scaling and root planing, or surgery and other periodontal therapy, if you have:
- Moderate to severe forms of periodontitis (moderate to advanced gum disease)
- Periodontal disease that has not improved with other types of treatment alone
- Periodontal disease and a weakened immune system
Oral antibiotics may be necessary to eliminate infection-causing bacteria completely. Though long-term use of oral antibiotics is generally not advised due to the risks of bacterial resistance, it can be effective to control aggressive periodontal disease.
Unlike oral medication, which has a systemic effect, topical application of antibiotics to the gum surface will not affect your entire body. A topical antibiotic may be recommended to help control bacterial infection. That may include antibiotic mouth rinses, or insertion of threads and gels containing antibiotics into the space between your teeth and gums, or into pockets after deep cleaning.
Antibiotics treat the bacterial infection that causes periodontal disease, but they can also be used to:
- Offer protection for patients with heart disease who have dental surgery, to prevent infections in the cardiovascular system
- Help prevent further infection in the gums
- Reduce inflammation, which can further damage the gingival tissue