If you've been diagnosed with gum disease, there are a variety of treatment options depending on the details of your situation and the severity of the problem. We always start with the least invasive options, which are non-surgical.
The first line of defense against gum disease is a unique type of cleaning called “scaling and root planing.” In this procedure, an ultrasonic cleaning device is used to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth where regular cleaning devices can't reach: under the gum line, on the tooth, and around the root. Then, the rough surface of the tooth and the root are smoothed out (planed). This provides a healthy, clean surface that makes it easier for the gum tissue to reattach to the tooth.
If you address your gum disease before it becomes severe, scaling and root planing may be the only treatment you need. However, as with any dental procedure, after-care is vital. In order to keep your teeth in good shape and resist future occurrences of gum disease, you must brush and floss daily, eat a healthy diet, avoid tobacco use, and have regular dental checkups. Even after a successful scaling and root planing, if you don't attend to your teeth properly, it's quite likely that you'll develop gum disease again.
Perio Protect Trays
We believe this to be the best non-surgical treatment for gum disease currently available. Perio Protect trays are soft plastic trays that fit over the teeth slightly beyond the gum line. They are made with a slight cuff around the periphery of the tray that allows it to act like a gasket to seal the tray when seated on the tooth. A small amount of a specially formulated gel containing hydrogen peroxide is placed in the tray. When the tray is seated, the gel is forced into every nook and cranny in your mouth, including to the bottom of periodontal pockets. In the pockets, the hydrogen peroxide undergoes a chemical reaction, releasing oxygen that kills the anaerobic, oxygen-hating bacteria that cause gum disease. This high level of oxygen also has a healing effect on the wound in the gums caused by the infection, similar to hyperbaric oxygen therapy used in medicine.
It is important to note that rinsing your mouth with hydrogen peroxide straight out of the brown bottle will not be very effective in combating the germs that cause gum disease. This is because the Perio Protect tray with the gel is the vehicle that forces the hydrogen peroxide deep into the pockets, something that rinsing alone won't do.
Another option is an oral rinse. The CariFree company has developed a product line for treating tooth decay that can also be used to combat the germs that cause dental decay. We recommend the CTx4 rinse and the CTx4 Gel 5000 toothpaste that accompanies the kit. You cannot buy these products directly from the company, but you may purchase them through our office.
The active ingredient in CTx4 is sodium hypochlorite, NaOCl, commonly known as chlorine. It tastes a little like minty swimming pool water, and is effective in killing the germs that cause decay and gum disease, so it may be a good option for patients suffering from both infections.
DIY Chlorine Rinse
An effective chlorine rinse can be made for pennies a day from household bleach (regular strength, no perfumes) and water.* Add two teaspoons to one cup (8 oz) water and rinse for 60 seconds, pulling it between your teeth. We recommend you do it twice a day, followed by a prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste that Dr. Alan will prescribe.
*Slots, J. Low-cost periodontal therapy. Periodontology 2000 2012: 60: 110–137