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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why See a Periodontist?

Periodontist examining a patient
This is second in our blog series highlighting dental specialties. Today we explore periodontist. A periodontist receives three years of additional training after dental school to specialize in the treatment and prevention of periodontal disease, oral inflammation, and the placement and repair of dental implants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that periodontal disease is present in nearly half of all American Adults. That's over 64 million people, a pretty staggering statistic. You can read all about periodontal disease on our blog. Here are a few quick facts:
  • Several risk factors for periodontal disease include: poor oral hygiene, smoking, poor nutrition, stress, hormone changes, genetic predisposition, diabetes or other illnesses.
  • Initial symptoms of gum might include: red or swollen gums, gums that easily bleed, sensitive or loose teeth, persistent bad breath, receding gums, and mouth sores.
  • Left unchecked, periodontal disease can lead to tooth and permanent bone loss, serious infections in your mouth and has even been linked to heart disease, stroke and respiratory problems.
While a general dentist can likely successfully manage cases of gingivitis and mild periodontal disease, a partnership between the dentist and periodontist may be beneficial in moderate to severe cases of periodontitis, or when a patient presents a complex medical history.

Procedures a patient might expect to undergo when visiting a periodontist office include:
  • Comprehensive oral evaluation as well as a thorough review of the patient’s medical and dental histories.
  • Scaling and root planing - a procedure in which the periodontist removes plaque, calculus and build-up from below the surface of the gums, cleaning clear down the root of the tooth.
  • Root surface debridement - deep cleaning that takes into consideration not only the roots of the teeth, but also removes damaged tissues from the pocket (a space created by build-up under the gums that is a haven for bacteria and infection) and underlying tissues.
  • Oral Surgeries - such as pocket reduction, soft tissue grafts, bone grafts, bone surgery, guided tissue regeneration, etc.
  • Placement or repair of a implants.
Dental implants are obviously closely connected to the gum and underlying bone tissues of the mouth, exactly what a periodontist specializes in. The best candidates for dental implants are usually those with healthy tissues, free of periodontal disease. A periodontist can help you bring your mouth to a more ideal condition for implants, place them and oversee implant maintenance for the best and most long lasting results.

The field of Periodontology is growing specialty in the world of dentistry. If you require dental implants, have a severe case of periodontal disease or present a complex medical history, a periodontist has the training, experience and technology to provide the best care to your teeth and supporting tissues. In many cases, a periodontist will team up with your current dentist, so don't be afraid to ask him/her for a referral if you feel a visit to the periodontist would be beneficial to your oral health.