If gingivitis goes untreated, periodontitis (infection around the root of the tooth) can result. Periodontitis, which can affect just a portion of the gumline or the entire gumline, is characterized by plaque-filled pockets between the teeth and gums.
As the gums become infected and inflamed, the pockets enlarge and more plaque gets trapped inside them. Pus often forms, and in severe cases, may ooze from around the affected teeth. Soon the periodontal ligament that holds the teeth (or tooth) in place becomes damaged and the alveolar bone socket that houses the teeth begins to erode. Next the affected gum detaches from the surrounding teeth, making it easy for teeth to fall out.
Signs and Symptoms
- Swollen, soft and red, or recessed gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Bad breath
- Unpleasant taste in mouth
- Pain in a specific tooth (or teeth) when eating sweet, cold, or hot foods
- Loose tooth (or teeth)
Conventional Dental Treatment
If you suspect periodontitis, visit your dentist, who can diagnose the condition with X-rays and a thorough exam. Treatment begins with a complete cleaning of your teeth’s root surfaces. You may be sent home with a strict regimen that includes consistent flossing and brushing. If there is no improvement with home care or if the periodontitis is. severe-your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics. If periodontitis is limited to one or two small areas, Your dentist may instead prescribe an Actisite patch, a tetracycline-impregnated patch that stays in place for 7 to 10 days, slowly delivering antibiotics into the site of the infection. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Actisite process as another treatment or some forms of periodontal disease. In another approach now used in some European countries, a gellaced with the germ-killer metronidazole is injected between teeth and gums in people with severe periodontal disease; in one study, the gel saved 94 percent of teeth. Should drug therapy not work, you may require surgery to clean the infected gum and recontour it around the teeth.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments
Nutrition and Supplementation
To give your teeth and gums the exercise they need, and to supply your body with the nutrients vital to healthy teeth, eat a varied diet of fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, meat, and whole grains. Avoid carbohydrates and sugar, which inhibit the ability of white blood cells to fight bacteria.
Nutritionists recommend the following daily supplements:
- coenzyme (100 mg)-increases tissue oxygenation
- vitamin C with bioflavonoids (4000 to 10,000 mg in divided doses)-promotes healing; bioflavonoids retard plaque growth
- calcium (1500 mg)-prevents bone loss around the gums
- magnesium (750 mg)-balances the calcium
- vitamin A (25,000 IU for 1 month, then reduce
to 10,000 IU; do not exceed 8000 IU if you are pregnant)-heals gum tissue; use emulsion form
- mixed carotenoid formula (as directed on label)-manufactures vitamin A as needed
- vitamin E (start with 400 IU and increase slowly to 1000 IU)-heals gum tissue
- zinc (50 to 80 mg; do not exceed a total of 100 mg from all supplements)-promotes healing
- oral glutathione spray
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture can help treat inflammation and pain, and boost the immune system so that the body is better able to resist secondary infections. The practitioner may focus on ear points related to the mouth, adrenal gland, and upper and lower jaw bone.
Acupressure In addition to massaging around the mouth itself, the practitioner also may apply pressure to Stomach, and Large Intestine, which is thought to help improve the health of the teeth by improving circulation to the area.
Chinese Herbal Therapy Achyranthes and pseudoginseng can prevent bleeding gums, and in combination with formulas that include wild Chinese jujube, polygonatum, caltrop, teasel, and polygala, can help reverse bone loss. If gums and bones weaken to the point that teeth become loose, the practitioner may recommend preparations containing eclipta.
The practitioner also may advise the patient to brush with a paste made from turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves. Because Chinese medicine regards teeth and bone problems as being related to kidney health, herbs also may be prescribed to improve kidney function.