Treating and Preventing Gum Infection
While serious gum infections aren’t extremely common, they can lead to major issues if not treated in a timely manner. While most of us aspire to keep our teeth and gums healthy, your gums can be prone to gum infection if not cared for properly.
Infection occurs when germs or bacteria enter a susceptible site in the body and multiply, resulting in disease. (1) In your mouth, this can occur when “bad bacteria” multiply and congregate within the space between your gums and your teeth (called the sulcus). If the bacteria are not removed, over time they can cause tissue breakdown and the formation of periodontal pockets and infections.
The Link Between Gum Disease and Gum Infection
Surprisingly, approximately 50 percent of adult Americans have gingivitis, an early and mild form of gum disease. However, only 5 to 15 percent of Americans have the more serious and advanced form of gum disease known as periodontitis. (2) That’s because most people who visit their dentist regularly will find out about gum disease and treat it before it progresses to more serious forms of gum disease.
Periodontitis affects the area of your mouth just below the gum line, in the v-shaped crevice between your tooth and gums, known as the sulcus. This impacts the attachment of your tooth and causes the nearby tissue to break down. Once the tissue is damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket that can store bacteria and lead to gum infection. (3)
Treating Gum Infection
As soon as you notice a gum infection, you should consult with a dentist. Signs of gum infection include gums that are swollen, tender or bleeding; receding gums; pus coming from the gums; chronic bad breath; loose teeth; or a noticeable change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
Once gum infection is diagnosed, you will have numerous treatment options that will vary based on the severity of the gum infection. Here are some common methods of treatment for gum infection:
- Antibiotic Therapy: Just as you’d expect with any type of infection, antibiotics are often used to treat gum infection. Your dentist may elect to use an antibiotic pill or injection directly into the gum infection site.
- Root Planing and Scaling Treatment: This advanced gum infection treatment cleans deeply between your gums and teeth—all the way to the roots.
- Surgical Interventions: If none of these other gum infection treatments work, your dentist may recommend surgery. There are several surgery options, including a gingivectomy, flap procedure or even a tooth extraction. (4)
Since prevention is the best way to avoid gum infection, it’s important to make caring for your teeth and gums a top priority. Be sure to brush, floss and rinse every day, and visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings and dental exams. Following these important guidelines will help keep your teeth and gums healthy and help prevent gum infection.