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 Integrative Dentistry: Gum Disease 

Conventional Treatment
The only effective long-term treatment of gum disease is to deal with its underlying causes and to keep the teeth and gums clean. Good oral hygiene includes regular professional cleanings. Such cleanings are extremely important at the first sign of gingivitis.

Be aware that each stage of gum disease requires a different type of cleaning. For early-stage gingivitis, a one-time professional cleaning is usually sufficient. During this visit (as well as visits for more advanced gum disease), a periodontal probe (see margin figure) will be used to determine the degree of gum damage. One end of the probe has bands that indicate millimeters. This end is gently placed between the tooth and gum to measure gum pocket depth (see margin figure). For healthy gums, pocket depth is from 2 and 3 millimeters. As mild to moderate pain may be felt during the cleaning, your dentist may first numb the area with a topical anesthetic. After the cleaning, you will probably be asked to return in three months for a check-up and another routine cleaning. If the gums appear healthy at that point, you will likely be asked to either continue the three-month recalls or return in four to six months.

Periodontitis and advanced periodontitis require more than a routine cleaning. Bacteria has caused a build-up of plaque and tartar deep into the gum tissue and on the tooth root. Scalers (see margin figure) are used to scrape plaque and tartar off the surface of the teeth (scaling), including the roots (root planing). Plaque and infected tissue are removed from the walls of the gum pockets (curettage). Depending on the extent of the infection, the amount of plaque and tartar, and the depth of the pockets, the procedure may require one or more visits. Local anesthetic may be used during this procedure if the pain is severe. Antibiotics may be prescribed if abscesses are present.

Your dentist may refer you to a periodontist for deep-cleanings or for surgery to remove diseased gum tissue and to reshape the bone. However, surgery will not bring about a permanent cure unless the cause of the disease is determined and eliminated. In the case of advanced periodontitis, splinting the teeth (holding several teeth in place by means of a wire, plastic, or resin material) and bone and gum grafting may be considered instead of tooth extraction.

Gum Disease
Gum Disease
Gum Disease
Gum Disease

8 Ways to Stop Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums are often a sign of gum disease. It is important to do something immediately to remedy the situation. The following are eight effective ways to treat bleeding gums.

1. Floss daily. Plaque build-up is a major cause of gum disease. Flossing not only keeps plaque from building on teeth, it also prevents it from building on gums. (For more information on proper flossing techniques, see Oral Hygiene, Flossing, in Part Three.)

(Excerpted from The Complete Book of Dental Remedies)
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 About The Author
Flora Stay DDSFlora Stay, DDS holds a doctor of dental surgery degree from University of California, San Francisco. She is the founder of ...more
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