Antimicrobial therapy is a form of oral treatment used to eliminate or reduce the development of bacterial infections in the mouth. The therapy aims to prevent periodontal disease resulting from infections, which can cause painful, bleeding gums and loosening of your teeth.
Preparation and Treatment
If your dentist decides you will benefit from antimicrobial treatment, he or she will likely start with root planing and scaling. This process removes plaque from the periodontal pockets using either a scaler, an ultrasonic cleaner or a dental laser. In severe cases where there is periodontal pockets greater than 5 mm deep, the practitioner might perform gum flap surgery to clean the periodontal infection around the teeth and root surfaces. These procedures typically take place using local anesthesia to reduce the patient's discomfort.
Afterward, the dentist cleans and scales the surface of the affected tooth to prevent further plaque buildup and enable the gum tissue to heal. Your practitioner might also recommend the use of antiseptic mouthwash or prescribe antibiotic medications for you to use for the next seven to 10 days.
Mouthwashes containing antiseptic solutions help control the reproduction of the bacteria, which grow on the gum tissue in the mouth, and help to clean out the pockets around the individual teeth. Ingredients in antiseptic mouthwashes include chlorhexidine, triclosan, essential oils, and metal salts Sn11 and Zn11 to help control dental plaque and halitosis, according to a report published by BMC Microbiology.
The use of prescription antibiotics was previously widespread in dentistry to reduce infections, such as mouth abscesses, but are offered less frequently now because bacteria have become resistant to certain types. Antibiotics are likely to be recommended in severe cases, such as treatment of necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, according to a case report in the Journal of Oral Research. Other medications that may be prescribed for gum infections contain:
- Clindamycin, which is typically prescribed for dental abscesses occurring in the bone or soft tissue. The dentist will often recommend this as a secondary measure, after penicillin or an equivalent has been tried without success.
- Chlorhexidine, which is used to control plaque, gingivitis and periodontal spaces between your gums and teeth. This ingredient comes in the form of a chip used for scaling and root planing procedures.
The dentist can also offer local antimicrobial therapy, which involves inserting antibiotic gel containing doxycycline or minocycline powder directly under your gum tissue and sealing the area with a periodontal pack for up to 10 days.
Maintaining a strict oral health routine is critical after antimicrobial therapy to make sure you get the benefit of the treatment. First, brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, and floss at least once daily. If you've had local therapy, avoid flossing for a day or two to protect the location of the periodontal pack. Next, swish with a mouthwash, such as Colgate Total Mouthwash for Gum Health, which offers advanced gum protection for 45 percent stronger, healthier gums.
If your dentist prescribed any form of antibiotics, it's imperative you take the full course of medicine exactly as instructed to reduce the risk of building bacterial resistance. For patients who are prescribed Periostat, this is a low dose of doxycycline to be taken for up to six months to reduce your immune system's response to infection, rather than kill the bacteria.
Schedule an examination within two to three months after therapy to determine whether your mouth has healed as expected. If not, your dentist might recommend alternative ways to manage the problem. Provided all is well, you can resume your regular routine of annual periodontal examinations, routine cleaning and polishing, and a full set of X-rays every four to five years.
Keep your mouth and teeth clean through the use of antimicrobial therapy and regular visits to see your dentist or dental hygienist for overall health and mouth wellness.