Periodontal disease is an infection of the teeth, gums, and the bone that surrounds the teeth. It's caused by specific bacteria that live in the spaces between the teeth and gums, called pockets. The bacteria that cause periodontal disease trigger the body's immune system to produce enzymes, and these enzymes are what actually cause bone loss.

If left untreated, the destruction of supporting bone eventually leads to tooth loss. In fact, periodontal disease is the number-one cause of adult tooth loss. The traditional treatment for periodontal disease has always included a series of steps, beginning with the removal of plaque and tartar from the root surfaces. This procedure is called root planing. After healing, the areas are re-evaluated, homecare techniques are modified, and in severe cases, surgery is recommended. Fortunately, recent breakthroughs have led to the development of another effective tool in the ongoing fight against periodontal disease -- a new systemic medication called Periostat.

Periostat is taken not for its antibiotic effect, but for its inhibiting effect on the bone-destroying enzymes that are released by the body in response to periodontal disease. It's taken twice daily, one capsule in the morning and one in the evening, about an hour before meals. When used in combination with scaling, root planing, and improved homecare techniques, Periostat suppresses the level of destructive enzymes that cause bone loss, which will in turn help to reduce pocket depth and promote healthy gum-tooth attachment. We won't prescribe Periostat if you're allergic to tetracyclines, or are pregnant or nursing; we also don't prescribe it for infants or children under eight years of age.

Periostat is an important advance in the treatment of adult periodontitis that, when combined with scaling, root planing and improved homecare techniques, can help stop the ongoing damage caused by periodontal disease.