General Dentistry

Antibiotics Help in the Treatment of Gum Disease

Periodontal or gum disease is characterised by inflammation of the gums and progressive bone loss around the teeth. Symptoms include red, swollen and bleeding gums, receding gums, bad breath, loosening teeth and subsequent loss of teeth. Some risk factors for periodontal disease include smoking, poor oral hygiene, genetic predisposition and diabetes. The successful treatment of periodontal disease is important not only for the health of your teeth and gums but also for your general health as periodontal disease has been linked to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Traditionally, treatment involves removal of all plaque and calculus above and below the gum, improving oral hygiene and cessation of smoking. However, research is increasingly leaning towards the use of antibiotics as an adjunct at the time of gum treatment. The research shows that use of certain antibiotics around the time of professional gum treatment can improve the treatment results. In a recent randomised controlled trial of 37 patients, the use of antibiotics in the initial phase of periodontal treatment was found to improve the clinical outcomes[1].

It should be noted that antibiotic use alone will have no effect on periodontal disease, furthermore the jury is still out regarding antibiotic use as best practise. The main concern is antibiotic resistance and creation of superbugs due to excessive antibiotic use in the community.

Dr Michael Russo

BCom, BDent, Grad. Dip. Clin. Dent. (Oral Implants)


  1. Saleh, A., et al., Comparison of adjunctive azithromycin and amoxicillin/metronidazole for patients with chronic periodontitis: preliminary randomized control trial. Aust Dent J, 2016. 61(4): p. 469-481.