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There are a number of drugs that play an important role in the treatment of gum disease. We discuss where these drugs are most used, why they are not enough on their own, and why there is still no one drug to 'cure' gum disease.

Dental diseases are pretty different from those that occur in different parts of the body. There is no vaccine to prevent tooth decay or gum disease. There is also no medicine that can cure the infection on its own when dental infections have set in. If you are seeking bleeding gums treatment, then you have to go a dentist a get a procedure done. There is no other way. Recently, however, advances in research of treatment of gum disease has identified certain drugs which can be used as an adjunct to treatment or maybe even help in the prevention of the condition altogether.

Drugs used to treat gum disease


When it comes to talking of any drug that can be used to prevent gum disease, chlorhexidine has to be at the top of the list. Found in many over the counter prescription mouthwashes, chlorhexidine is considered the gold standard drug when it comes to gum diseases [1].

Here is how it works. Chlorhexidine attaches to the tooth surface and prevents the harmful bacteria from attaching to the tooth. It also remains attached to the tooth for a relatively long time, close to 12 hours, and so if the patient uses it twice a day, it will provide cover for the entire day [2].

So why has chlorhexidine not put dentists out of business just yet? For one thing, chlorhexidine is only effective when used on clean teeth. Ideally, the patient would have had a professional cleaning done and then be instructed to use it after brushing [3].

Using a chlorhexidine mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing. Also, chlorhexidine is effective at preventing plaque accumulation but it does nothing to treat any sort of pre-existing gum disease [4].


Both tetracycline and doxycycline belong to the same class of drugs and were developed to fight serious infections in different parts of the body. One of the fortuitous things that researchers found was that both these drugs are found in higher concentrations in the gingival crevicular fluid. This fluid plays a protective role for the gums and having a higher concentration of antibiotic in it allows it to combat a wide spectrum of micro-organisms effectively.  

Doctors use these drugs to help stabilize the micro-flora, use local drug delivery methods in isolated deep pockets, or fight acute infection alongside the surgical and non-surgical treatment of gum disease [5].

While these drugs are considered an effective aid in the treatment of gum disease, they are not a cure for the problem. This is because gum disease is chronic in nature and caused by micro-organisms found commonly in the mouth [6]. The micro-organisms are also just one part of the puzzle because the body’s immune response also plays a huge role in the occurrence of gum disease. It is impossible to take antibiotics all the time so that the likelihood of gum disease is decreased.

Low dose non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Technically, these drugs are rarely used for the treatment of gum disease, however, they are one of the most exciting areas of research for the future. It has now been found that the destruction caused by gum disease may be minimized by keeping the inflammatory response of the body in check. What currently happens is like sending in the army guns blazing for a small break-in [7].

Researchers are hoping that the use of long-term, low dose, anti-inflammatory drugs, they will be able to modulate the response of the body to sufficiently fight the disease but not cause the destruction of the structures surrounding the teeth in the process [8].

Low dose Aspirin is one of the drugs that has been trialed and shown to have some very encouraging results. We may see a lot more use of these drugs to help prevent and treat gum disease in the future [9].

Amoxycillin and Metronidazole

Dentists all over the world use the combination of amoxicillin and metronidazole to bring acute gum diseases under control. In patients that are suffering from serious conditions like acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, or are medically compromised because of being HIV positive, the combination of these two drugs can be very effective [10].

Amoxycillin and metronidazole together cover the vast majority of the spectrum of micro-organisms that have been identified as causing gum disease.


The use of drugs to treat gum disease will remain an adjunct to traditional non-surgical and surgical methods. There are still no drugs that can be prescribed for bleeding gums treatment. There is, however, no doubt that the role of certain drugs in modulating the response of the body to minimize destruction will increase in the future and may provide breakthroughs that we cannot imagine just yet.  

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