Although gum disease is a completely preventable disease, it is extremely common, especially in older patients. One of the most noticeable symptoms of gum disease is painful gum inflammation. This inflammation is caused by a build-up of bacteria-containing plaque. Reducing the irritation and inflammation is about eliminating plaque and bacteria, especially when it sneaks below the gum line, and these four treatments can do just that.

Deep Professional Cleaning

Plaque can be removed with regular at-home brushing and flossing. However, once it hardens into tartar, only a dental professional can remove it. So one way to help reduce bacteria and inflammation is to get a professional cleaning. A regular cleaning above the gum line will help, but it is particularly important the dentist or hygienist cleans below the gum line. This procedure is known as scaling and root planning.

Scaling refers to cleaning the teeth (both above and below the gum line). However, your teeth may have rough patches. These rough patches give bacteria a place to hide. Think about cleaning any surface. If the surface has a lot of bumps and crevices, it's harder to clean that a smooth surface. So, the dentist smooths any rough patches (planing), which makes it easier for you to clean your teeth at home.

Flap Surgery

Gum disease often leads to gum recession and pockets or gaps. These gaps create a large space between your teeth and gums. The bigger the pockets, the deeper the plaque, tartar and bacteria can hide. At this point, even scaling and root planing may not be enough to reach the farthest depths of wear the bacteria is hiding.

Flap surgery is a procedure to reduce these pockets, but it is also often used as a method for eliminating bacteria on your tooth roots. During the procedure, the dentist makes incisions in your gums and then pulls back the gums to reveal the tooth roots. This gives the dentist easy access for an incredibly deep clean.

Laser Cleanings

One new method for killing bacteria uses lasers. Laser cleanings can be used in addition with or in place of scaling and root planing. The laser is designed to kill bacteria below the gum line and help clean tartar and plaque without invasive tools.

It's still unclear as to whether or not laser cleanings are better than regular scaling and root planing, but there are a few clear advantages. Laser cleanings tend to be less painful and more comfortable than scaling and root planing. There is not much swelling, bleeding or post-treatment discomfort. Less pain is an important advantage for people who already have painful, swollen gums due to gum disease.


Because bacteria causes gum inflammation, antibiotics can also be useful for helping reducing swelling and discomfort. Chlorhexidine is the common antibiotic used to help treat gum disease inflammation, but other antibiotics include doxycycline, tetracycline and minocycline. They can be used alone or in addition to other treatments.

If you have scaling and root planing or flap surgery performed, your dentist may put antibiotics directly inside your gums in the form of antiseptic chips, antibiotic gels or antibiotic microspheres. Your dentist may also prescribe an antimicrobial mouthwash to use on a regular basis at home to keep bacteria under control. Last, if you have an acute flare-up, your dentist may prescribe oral antibiotics for a short period of time.

Gum disease is painful, especially when bacteria irritates and inflames your gums. Luckily, however, there are many treatments available, so you don't have to suffer. If you have gum disease, contact a dentist in your area today, such as Richard M Holmes DMD PA, to find out what treatments can help you.