Product Reviews
Updated on February 7, 2023
5 min read

How to Treat Gum Disease

NewMouth is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links. Advertising Disclosure.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissue that surrounds the teeth. It is caused by the hardening of plaque (bacteria buildup) that turns into tartar (hardened plaque) over time. This leads to infection and inflammation. 

Gum disease results from poor brushing and flossing. It causes swelling, bleeding, and painful chewing. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth and bone loss.

Factors that increase the risk of developing gum disease include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Defective fillings
  • Genetics
  • Crooked teeth
  • Dry mouth
  • Hormonal changes

How Common is Gum Disease?

According to a recent CDC report:1

  • 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease
  • Periodontal disease increases with age; 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have it

Periodontal disease is more common in men than women (56.4% vs 38.4%), those living below the federal poverty level (65.4%), those with less than a high school education (66.9%), and current smokers (64.2%).

Types of Treatment for Gum Disease

The primary goal of treating gum disease is to remove the buildup of tartar, thereby preventing the bacteria from spreading and causing bone loss. The type of gum disease treatment varies depending on the severity of the disease, including non-surgical and surgical therapies. 

Non-Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease

The most common non-surgical treatments for gum disease include: 

Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)

Deep cleaning involves removing plaque and tartar from the gums with a method called scaling and root planing.

Scaling is the process of scraping the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing removes rough tartar spots from the tooth’s root where disease-causing bacteria gather. Deep cleaning can cause bleeding, gum swelling, and discomfort. 


Medications treat pain and control infection. They are also used in combination with surgical gum disease treatments. 

Common medications used to treat gum disease include:

  • A prescription antimicrobial mouth rinse to control bacteria after gum surgery
  • Antibiotic gel used after deep cleaning to reduce the size of periodontal pockets
  • Antiseptic chip used after root planing to reduce the size of periodontal pockets
  • Enzyme suppressants used to restrain the body’s enzyme response, thereby preventing the breakdown of gum tissue
  • Oral antibiotics to treat periodontal infections in the short-term  

Laser Treatment

A laser also removes plaque and tartar from the gum line as an alternative to deep cleaning. Laser treatment decreases the chance of swelling, bleeding, and discomfort associated with scaling and root planing. 

Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease 

Gum disease surgery may be required if deep cleaning and medication don’t control infection or if gum disease is severe and deep pockets remain. 

Flap Surgery 

Flap surgery removes tartar under the gums, then sutures them back in place. This ensures the gum tissue is tight against the tooth and reduces the size of periodontal pockets.

After healing from flap surgery, it is easier to clean and maintain healthy gums.

Bone Grafts

Gum disease can lead to bone loss around the tooth root. 

A bone graft involves placing natural or synthetic bone to stimulate regrowth where the bone is lost.

Soft Tissue Grafts

Gum disease also destroys soft tissue.

A soft tissue graft uses a synthetic mesh material or natural tissue from your mouth to cover exposed tooth roots. This process helps reduce gum recession and improves the appearance of your smile.

Guided Tissue Regeneration 

Guided tissue regeneration is a technique used with bone grafting. 

The procedure places a mesh-like material in between the bone and connective tissue to prevent tissue from growing where bone should be. 

Managing Gum Disease At Home

Early gum disease, called gingivitis, can be treated at home to prevent infection and progression of the disease. 

The primary way of reducing plaque and tartar buildup is to maintain good oral hygiene. This means you should:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and replace it every three months
  • Floss daily 
  • Consider using an electric toothbrush
  • Use mouthwash
  • Get regular dental cleanings

Gum Disease Complications

If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth and bone loss. Uncontrolled infection can also put you at a higher risk for other systemic diseases, including cardiovascular and lung disease.

Other complications of untreated gum disease include:

  • Loose teeth
  • Large ulcers (sores) in the gum tissue
  • Recurrent gum abscess (collection of pus)
  • Damage to the jaw bone
  • Receding gums

Can You Prevent Gum Disease? 

Gum disease is reversible and preventable by practicing good oral hygiene. The most effective things you can do to keep your gums healthy are to:

  • Brush twice a day
  • Use dental floss regularly
  • Get routine dental cleanings and check-ups twice a year
  • Rinse with mouthwash

How Much Does Gum Disease Treatment Cost?

The cost to treat gum disease varies depending on the severity of the disease, geographical location of treatment, and if you have dental insurance.

Depending on these factors, gum disease treatment can range from $500 to $10,000.6 

After gum disease treatment, you may also need maintenance therapies, which can add to the cost.

Estimated costs for these procedures are:

  • Regular dental screenings — Between $30 and $75
  • Scaling and root planing — Between $140 and $210
  • Periodontal maintenance after initial treatment — Averages $115
  • Locally administered antibiotic treatment — Averages $75 per tooth

After an initial diagnosis, a dentist might refer you to a periodontist (a dentist specializing in gum disease) for further treatment and evaluation. 


Periodontal gum disease is a bacterial infection of gum tissue. Plaque and tartar buildup are the primary cause. If left untreated, it can cause severe complications like bone loss, which causes loose teeth. 

Gum disease is treated with both surgical and non-surgical procedures. The goal is to remove tartar and promote the reattachment of healthy gums to teeth. 

You can prevent gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene. This involves brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and getting routine dental check-ups and cleanings.

Last updated on February 7, 2023
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 7, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Periodontal disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Periodontal (gum) disease. Causes, symptoms and treatments.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Periodontal (gum) disease.” National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
  4. Gum disease.” American Dental Association.
  5. Complications of gum disease.” NHS Inform.
  6. Gum disease: signs, symptoms, and treatments.” Consumer Guide to Dentistry.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram