If you’ve been told by your periodontist that you have periodontal disease, the first step in your treatment will be scaling and root planing. The goal of periodontal treatment is to thoroughly clean the pockets of bacteria and to prevent more damage from occurring. For many patients, this, along with good home care and regular cleanings, will do the trick to improve your oral health and maintain it for a lifetime. However, in severe cases of periodontal disease, this may not be enough.
Antibiotics can be a useful tool in conjunction with surgery and other periodontal therapy if you have:
- Severe forms of periodontitis (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 completely eliminate infection-causing bacteria and are typically given for an acute infection. While 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. Your periodontist may recommend using a topical antibiotic to help control bacterial infection, which can 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, preventing infections in the cardiovascular system
- Help prevent further infection in the gums
- Reduce inflammation which can further damage the gingival tissue
If your periodontal disease isn’t improving, even with regular checkups, cleanings, and home care, ask your periodontist if adding antibiotic therapy is right for you.