Health Information

Medications for Periodontal Disease

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The more you know about your health, the better prepared you are to make informed healthcare decisions. Our health library gives you the information you need to take charge of your health.

The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medicines listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your dentist or doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medicines as recommended by your doctor or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

Medicines used to treat periodontal disease may be delivered in a number of ways, including as:

  • Pills
  • Mouthwash
  • Tiny fibers, microchips, or microspheres that can be placed between the teeth or into deep gum pockets to slowly release the medicine into the surrounding area
  • Gels that can be placed into infected pockets in the gums

Prescription Medications

Tetracycline

Metronidazole

Chlorhexidine Gluconate

Other Macrolides such as Azithromycin, Minocycline, and Doxycycline

Prescription Medications

Tetracycline

Tetracycline is a type of antibiotic used to fight bacterial infections. Take this medicine on an empty stomach with a full glass of water.

Certain over-the-counter products (such as, antacids, calcium supplements, iron) can reduce the effectiveness of tetracycline. Talk to your doctor about any supplements or prescription medicines that you are taking.

Possible side effects include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased sun sensitivity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vaginal yeast infection (women)
  • Decreased effectiveness of birth control pills

This antibiotic should be avoided in pregnant or nursing women and in children less than 8 years old.

Metronidazole

Metronidazole is another kind of antibiotic that is used to treat chronic cases of periodontal disease. This medicine may be used in combination with another drug. You can take metronidazole with food if the medicine upsets your stomach.

Possible side effects include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Abnormal taste

Metronidazole should not be taken if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. This medicine may affect other prescription drugs—especially blood thinners. So, be sure that your doctor is aware of any medicines, including over-the-counter-products, that you are taking.

Chlorhexidine Gluconate

Chlorhexidine gluconate is another antibiotic that is used to prevent or treat periodontal disease. This medicine may be in the form of a mouthwash or a microchip.

Possible side effects include:

  • Mouth or lip irritation
  • Dry mouth
  • Abnormal taste

This medicine should be avoided in nursing women, children, and teenagers.

Special Considerations

If you are taking medicines, follow these general guidelines:

  • Take your medicine as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share them.
  • Use a measuring spoon, cup, or syringe to give the right dose. Make sure it has the same measurements as the medicine. For example, if the medicine is given in milliliter (mL), the device should also say mL.
  • Know what the results and side effects. Report them to your doctor.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medicine and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you do not run out.

Revision Information

  • Drug name: metronidazole. UCLA School of Dentistry website. Available at: http://www.dent.ucla.edu/pic/members/antibiotics/metronidazole.html. Accessed August 13, 2012.

  • Gum disease: what you need to know. American Academy of Periodontology website. Available at: http://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease.htm . Updated May 2011. Accessed August 13, 2012.

  • Lexi-PALS. Chlorhexidine gluconate. EBSCO Health Library, Lexi-PALS website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary . Updated June 28, 2010. Accessed August 13, 2012.

  • Lexi-PALS. Metronidazole. EBSCO Health Library, Lexi-PALS website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary . Updated November 4, 2010. Accessed August 13, 2012.

  • Lexi-PALS. Tetracycline. EBSCO Health Library, Lexi-PALS website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary . Updated May 5, 2010. Accessed August 13, 2012.

  • Metronidazole oral. PubMed Health website. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0011193 . Accessed August 13, 2012.

  • Periodontal (gum) disease. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/GumDisease . Updated May 2011. Accessed August 13, 2012.

  • Periodontal (gum) diseases. American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org/3063.aspx . Updated March 2011. Accessed August 13, 2012.

  • Tetracycline. PubMed Health website. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0001778 . Accessed August 13, 2012.

  • United States Pharmacopeial Convention. USP DI . 21st ed. Greenwood Village, CO: Micromedex; 2001.