Peridontics allows dentist the opportunity to maintain and provide the best level of support for your teeth structure. Periodontic services include treatment for gum recession, gingivitis, and gum disease. It also includes Scaling & Root Planing and Dental Implants.
What is a Periodontist?
A Periodontist specializes in diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. Most commonly known as gum disease. A Periodontist focuses on treating the following areas of the mouth surrounding the teeth, including the gums, bones, and connective tissues. Periodontists are top experts in their ﬁeld and must complete a minimum of three (3) years of dental school. They are followed by three (3) years of specialized training in periodontics before treating patients. Do you know your Mouth-Body Connection®? There's much more to your oral health than most people realize. Click here to take our quiz.
What procedures does a Periodontist perform?
Periodontal or gum disease (gingivitis) results in swollen and bleeding gums. During the onset of gingivitis, your general dentist may treat the condition. However, patients with advanced cases generally are referred to a periodontist for specialized treatment. A periodontist specializes in surgical and non-surgical procedures to treat the various stages of gum disease. Standard surgical procedures a periodontist may perform:
- Pocket depth reduction: Excess bacteria in the mouth can slowly destroy the gum tissue and bone around the tooth, causing deep "pockets" to form around the tooth. Bacteria grow in these pockets, which can lead to tooth loss. In this procedure, the periodontist folds back the gum tissue, removes the bacteria from around the root, and then secures the gum tissue back in place.
- Soft tissue grafts: This procedure helps to reduce and repair receding gums and prevent further bone loss. The periodontist typically takes gum tissue from the patient's upper palate to cover the tooth's exposed root.
- Dental implants: When a patient loses a tooth to infection, the periodontist may suggest installing a dental implant, an authentic-looking artiﬁcial tooth. Unlike dentures or a bridge, dental implants are permanent. For this reason, your periodontist surgically places dental implants in the bone (endosteal implants) or the gum (subperiosteal implants).
- Non-surgical treatments: A Periodontist may perform are scaling and root planing (the removal of plaque and other deposits above and below the gum line, and the smoothing of root surfaces), laser treatments (a specialized cleaning to remove bacteria and help repair diseased gums), and root surface debridement (the removal of the damaged gum tissue). Periodontists can also perform various cosmetic dentistry procedures to improve patients' smiles, including dental implants and tissue grafts.
What causes periodontal (gum) disease?
The buildup of plaque causes periodontal disease (periodontitis). You may recognize plaque as the sticky, bacteria-ﬁlled ﬁlm that forms on your teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause deterioration of the gum tissue and bone, leading to receding gums and tooth loss. It may also cause medical problems and advanced, severe medical conditions in patients with Alzheimer's disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. In addition, other systemic diseases that interfere with the body's inﬂammatory system may worsen the gums, such as cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis. To avoid a visit to the periodontist, you must brush and ﬂoss at least twice daily, visit the dentist at least every six months, eat a healthy diet, and not smoke.
You may be at risk for periodontitis if you:
- Do not practice good oral hygiene;
- Smoke or chew tobacco;
- Suffer from heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, or osteoporosis;
- Family history of periodontal disease;
- You are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
In addition, the following types of prescription medications may also increase the risk of periodontal disease. Talk with your general dentist if you are taking:
- Cancer therapy medication;
- Oral contraceptives;
- Anti-epilepsy medication;
- Calcium channel blockers.
Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease does not always accompany its early warning signs. Hence, it is known as a "silent" disease. See your general dentist if you experience:
Changes to your teeth, bite, or dental treatments
- Your teeth begin to feel loose or separate;
- A change in the fit of your teeth when you bite down;
- Your bridges, implants, or partial dentures don't fit properly;
- Existing dental fillings are defective;
Changes to your gums
- Recurring redness, puffiness, gum recession, tenderness of your gums;
- Swelling and bleedings gums while brushing, flossing, or eating hard foods;
- Receding gums (your gums are pulling back from your teeth) causing them to look longer;
Foul odors and taste in your mouth
- A bitter or unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth;
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis);
- Persistent metallic flavor in your mouth;
- Pus between your gums and teeth;
- New sores or irritations in your mouth that do not heal within two (2) weeks;
What are the Different Types of Periodontal Treatment?
There are many patient-specific variables involved with treating periodontal disease. For example, much depends upon the stage of infection and the amount of deterioration involving your gums, teeth, supporting tissues, and bone.
Your periodontist reviews your x-rays after performing a thorough exam of your teeth and gums. Next, they will discuss non-surgical or surgical treatment options with you. Further, you will ask questions, get answers, and know what to expect during and after any procedure(s):
- The number of office visits required for treatment;
- What to do at home as your gums heal;
- Keeping periodontal disease under control after treatment is complete.
The most well-known type of non-surgical treatment is scaling and root planing. This under-the-gum procedure involves the careful removal of plaque and tartar from the tooth roots. During this procedure, your periodontist smooths your roots to expose and remove harmful bacteria. Root smoothing, along with the practice of good oral hygiene, can help prevent plaque from accumulating again.
Periodontal surgery may be needed to eliminate bone infections or to regenerate lost bone. The most common surgical treatments include:
- Pocket Reduction: During this procedure, your periodontist applies a local anesthetic. Next, they fold back your gum tissue to expose deeper tissues. As a result, your dentist removes harmful bacteria. Often, the damaged bone requires the smoothing of irregular surfaces to reveal hidden areas of bacteria. Gum tissue is then closed and sutured in place.
- Bone Regeneration: As mentioned above, your periodontist applies a local anesthetic. Next, they fold back your gum tissue to expose deeper tissues. The removal of disease-causing bacteria is a vital step. Our body's natural ability to reproduce bone and tissue requires membranes, bone grafts, or tissue-stimulating proteins. Your periodontist may reverse some of the damage through this procedure. The reshaping of excess gum and bone tissues exposes more of the natural tooth. Some patients require one or several teeth to even out the gum line. As a result, the surgery exposes a genuine, broad smile. Gum tissue is then closed and sutured in place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is periodontics a dental specialty?
Answer: Yes, periodontal specialists focus exclusively on treating inflammatory disease that destroys the gums and other supporting structures around the teeth.
Question: What do periodontal treatments fix?
Answer: Periodontal treatments clean the infected surfaces of a tooth's root. Often, patients require the removal of damaged tissue. The goal is to treat and reverse bone and gum tissue loss.
Question: What happens to untreated gum disease?
Answer: If left untreated, gum disease causes inflammation to your gums. As a result, your supporting bone structure further deteriorates. Most often resulting in receding gums or tooth loss.
Question: How common is periodontal disease?
Answer: You may be surprised to know 47.2% of adults over (thirty) 30 have some form of periodontal disease. If you are 65 and older, the number increases to 70.1%.
Question: Is gum disease reversible?
Answer: At the second stage of gum disease, it is not reversible. However, it is manageable with regular periodontal exams and treatment. Most importantly, do not ignore the signs of gum disease at any stage.
How Do I Find a Local Periodontist?
The Smile Generation® connects you with trusted, experienced, and qualified local Periodontists. We strive to be your trusted resource for all your dental health needs. Further, we provide a search tool, "Find a Periodontist." Now you can search by dental specialty, name of a periodontist, address, city, or zip code. You may also call us at +1 (800) 764-5343 or use our Website's Live Chat feature located in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.