The Practical Difference between Deep Cleanings and Antibiotics

Dec 15 • 2 minute read

When patients of Arlington Comfort Dental come to us with signs of gum disease, Dr. Relias offers two approaches to overcome the infection. One is to perform a periodontal deep cleaning, also known as tooth scaling and root planing, and the other is to provide this cleaning and then administer antibiotics to the site of gum disease. Some of our patients who prefer less extensive care often ask us why we do not provide just antibiotics.

To understand why we do not rely solely on antibiotics, we have to look at the difference between the two types of treatment.

Deep Cleanings Are Preventive and Restorative

A deep cleaning involves the removal of plaque and tartar from below the gumline, in addition to a standard dental cleaning that removes debris from above the soft tissue.

Scaling and planing can be beneficial by itself because it physically removes the source of gum disease from the smile. Plaque is a sticky film composed of the oral bacteria and the food debris that feeds these germs; tartar is plaque that has been allowed to solidify. These bacterial substances irritate the gums and cause the soft tissue to recede from the teeth over time. By physically lifting the plaque and tartar from the teeth, scaling and planing stops and prevents the advancement of gum disease. Deep cleanings can even reverse the effects of early-stage gum disease if administered immediately after the gums show signs of irritation.

Antibiotics Are Preventive Only

Antibiotics can prevent the bacterial growth which leads to plaque development. Deep cleanings remove the current plaque to prevent continuing infections, and antibiotics better guarantee new plaque does not form.

As useful as they are as a supplement to scaling and planing, antibiotics should not be used as an independent treatment.

In cases where this is a consideration, the gums have already experienced advanced gum disease before and are starting to show signs of reinfection. The problem of using antibiotics at this stage is two-fold. First, antibiotics do not remove any extant plaque deposits, and there is always a risk of their presence even if the dentist does not find any. Once the medicine wears off, the buildup is still present to infect the gums. Second, bacteria that are exposed to, but not killed by, antibiotics can rapidly develop a resistance. Antibiotics will not work as well as they need to if they become necessary at a later time.

Call Us for Periodontal Care

Arlington Comfort Dental offers periodontal disease treatments in Arlington Heights, Palatine, Buffalo Grove, and all surrounding communities. For more information, call our practice and schedule your next dental appointment today!

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