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How do medications treat periodontitis?

Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat an infection caused by periodontitis. The antibiotics may be able to reach deep-seated infections that cannot be otherwise treated. This may be an antibiotic mouthwash or gel instead of an antibiotic pill.

Several of the medications that are available to treat periodontitis (gum disease) work by trying to reduce bacteria in your mouth. They also work to shrink the size of the periodontal pockets (the gaps where the gum tissue has pulled away from the teeth) in your mouth. For example, chlorhexadine is a strong prescription-only mouthwash that your dentist may suggest.

Antibiotic microspheres contain the antibiotic minocycline, and are small balls are placed into the periodontal pockets that slowly release minocycline to stop bacterial growth and shrink periodontal pockets.

Antibiotic gels, containing the antibiotic doxycycline, work in a similar way to the microspheres. Over a week-long period, doxycycline is released into the pockets, helping to stop bacteria and reduce the size of the periodontal pocket.

In my office, we prescribe a medication called Arestin as one treatment for periodontitis. Arestin is a microsphere impregnated antibiotic called Minocycline which is gently inserted under the gum tissues following scaling and root planing. These tiny microspheres slowly break down over time releasing the antibiotic and killing the harmful bacteria while your gums heal following treatment. Studies show treatment with Arestin give a higher blood level of the antibiotic than by swallowing a pill and usually leads to a more successful outcome. Ask your dentist if you a candidate for Arestin.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.