Gum Infection After Deep Cleaning
Your gums are where it all starts — with plaque and tartar that build up over time on the surface of your teeth. As these hard deposits grow, they can irritate your gums, leading them to become inflamed and infected. Plaque-induced gum inflammation is called gingivitis, while an acute infection in your gums is called periodontal disease (periodontitis).
Deep cleanings at home or by your hygienist often expose the roots of your teeth, which means bacteria from below the gum line can find its way into your bloodstream through the root canal system. If left untreated, this type of infection could spread to other parts of your body and cause abscesses, bone loss and even heart attack [sources: Brown; Kohanoff].
To avoid such complications, dentists recommend taking antibiotics before and after any dental procedure, including deep cleaning. They also recommend using antimicrobial mouth rinses during and after treatment to kill germs in the area surrounding your teeth.
If you experience tooth pain for more than 48 hours post-procedure, call your dentist immediately. He or she should order tests to determine whether there’s an infection. In addition, if your gums swell, tingle or burn upon brushing or flossing, see a doctor right away because you’re probably suffering from an allergic reaction to chemicals used in the procedure.
In this article, we’ll look at what happens when your gums get infected following a deep cleaning. We’ll cover how long it typically takes for symptoms to appear, as well as how frequently infections occur among patients who undergo deep cleaning procedures. We’ll also discuss possible treatments, including antibiotic use, extraction surgery and other types of surgical intervention. Finally, we’ll explain how new techniques and technologies are helping dentists better handle the risks associated with deep cleaning and treating infected gums.
What Happens When Gums Get Infected?
When your gums become infected, you may notice some combination of swelling, soreness, redness and/or bleeding around the affected areas. The good news is that gum infection usually only lasts about 10 days, unless you develop a chronic problem that requires ongoing treatment.
The reason why most cases of gum infection clear up so quickly has to do with the anatomy of our mouths. Our tongues act like little vacuum cleaners, constantly cleansing us by scraping off food particles and acids. This process helps keep our breath fresh and reduces bad breath. But when we don’t brush or floss regularly, the tongue can pick up a lot of gunk along the way, especially between our teeth. Unfortunately, this debris eventually makes its way down toward our lower jaw, where bacteria colonize and produce volatile sulfur compounds. These foul odors then reach our lungs via our saliva. Once inside our bodies, bacteria multiply and release toxins that further damage cells and tissues.
This cycle of bacterial growth and tissue destruction explains why gum infection tends to be fairly short-lived. Within just a few days of proper care, however, the gums begin to improve, and within one to two weeks, healing begins.
Unfortunately, not every patient responds to standard medical therapy as effectively as others. Some people suffer from persistent infections that require additional testing and specialized treatment plans. Others may need extractions, implants or orthodontics to correct structural problems caused by their gum disease. Gum infection is no joke, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, it isn’t nearly as dangerous or painful as many people make it out to be.
Next, let’s learn about how to reduce your risk of developing a gum infection following a deep cleaning.
Preventing Gum Infection Following A Deep Cleaning
While getting infected gums doesn’t sound like much fun, having a healthy mouth certainly does. By keeping your teeth and gums free of buildup, you can minimize the possibility of periodontal diseases occurring. And although it seems difficult, it’s actually pretty easy to keep your teeth and gums clean once you understand and practice a simple routine.
First, take regular oral hygiene breaks throughout the day. Brushing and flossing should happen twice daily, while professional cleanings and exams come three times per year. Be sure to follow each step carefully, since poor technique can lead to gum irritation. Also, watch out for specific activities that can worsen dry mouth conditions, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and caffeine intake. Taking these substances together can increase the risk of gum infection, as can stress and fatigue.
In addition to maintaining a steady diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, eating a wide variety of foods will ensure you receive adequate vitamins and minerals needed to maintain overall health and fight infection. Many people don’t realize it, but calcium plays a crucial role in fighting gum infection, particularly in children. Calcium protects against bone loss and osteoporosis, as well as helping strengthen bones that are already strong enough to support our weight.
Finally, remember that dental professionals are trained to perform thorough procedures safely, and they work hard to protect patients from infection. Dentists and hygienists employ sophisticated tools and equipment to provide cleaner teeth, while modern technology allows them to monitor and treat patients’ gums remotely. So, next time you go for a deep cleaning, make sure you leave your worries behind and enjoy a healthier smile!
Dry mouth affects millions of Americans, causing discomfort and increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease. Dry mouth occurs naturally as part of our natural defense mechanism to combat harmful organisms and pollutants in our environment. However, certain lifestyle choices can cause dry mouth, including extreme diets, smoking, drinking alcohol, undergoing radiation therapy and medications. Certain illnesses also contribute to dry mouth, including Parkinson’s disease, HIV or AIDS, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. People with dry mouth may also experience xerostomia, or excessive salivation, due to side effects from cancer treatment or medication usage. Saliva production can also decrease temporarily following surgeries involving the jaws, lips, nose or throat. For more information on dry mouth, read How Dry Mouth Works.
Periodontal Disease Treatment: Preventative vs. Curative
As mentioned earlier, if your gums become infected following a deep cleaning, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight the bacteria. Other types of medicine designed specifically to curb the infection include antiseptic mouthwashes, anti-inflammatory drugs and local anesthesia.
Antibiotics are given intravenously or orally, depending on the severity of the infection. Although prescription strength antibiotics are generally reserved for severe cases of gum infection, nonprescription versions such as benzathine penicillin G may be prescribed instead. Penicillin works by destroying bacteria in the blood stream. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include common analgesics such as aspirin and ibuprofen to relieve inflammation and pain. Local anesthetic numbs the skin near the gum infection site, allowing the dentist to perform deeper procedures without making you overly uncomfortable.
However, if your gums become infected and you haven’t received any antibiotics, you should still seek immediate treatment. Left unchecked, infection can spread to the rest of your body and result in serious complications.
Whether you decide to pursue preventive measures or curative ones, prevention is always less expensive than cure. Read on to find out how effective deep cleaning really is at preventing gum infection.
Although it sounds counterintuitive, brushing your teeth too vigorously can wear away enamel, creating a space under the gum line that leads to increased amounts of plaque formation and faster decay. Instead, gently massage your gums lightly with a soft bristled toothbrush and gentle circular motions. Rinse thoroughly afterward, and make sure to replace your toothbrush annually. You can also purchase electric toothbrushes, which offer improved efficiency and allow you to brush longer periods of time.
Deep Cleaning Procedures Can Cause Gum Infection
It goes without saying that deep cleaning procedures such as scaling and root planing can remove hardened material and bacteria from beneath your gum line. However, the same processes sometimes trigger gum infection in susceptible individuals. Such infections tend to present themselves roughly one to two weeks after a procedure, though they can show up as early as 24 hours after treatment. Most people recover from infection in about seven days, but those who experience persistent problems or continue to neglect their oral hygiene may need to see a dentist sooner.
One major factor contributing to gum infection is poor oral hygiene. Poorly cleaned teeth harbor bacteria that break down into volatile sulfur compounds, which travel to the lungs and enter the bloodstream. From there, the bacteria reach other parts of the body, including the gums. Bacteria can also contaminate the hands of the person performing the cleaning, and thus infect the gums. Patients whose gums are weakened due to injury or illness are also prone to infection.
Other causes of infection include trauma to the gums, such as cracked or broken teeth, as well as improper placement of fillings, crowns or bridges. The presence of metal braces or splints can also interfere with healing. Individuals with pre-existing gum disease are also more likely to contract an infection following a deep cleaning.
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