A periodontist is a dentist who has received additional training beyond dental school to become experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. They specialize in the treatment of individuals who suffer from periodontal disease, severe gum issues, and the treatment of those who have a complex medical history.
What types of issues do periodontists treat?
If your dentist says that it is time to see a periodontist, they may be seeing signs of moderate to advanced periodontitis or gum disease. Typically, signs of periodontitis will present in these most common symptoms:
- Swollen, red and tender gums or mouth pain
- Brushing, flossing, and eating hard foods cause bleeding
- Frequent bad breath
- Gums that have receded from the teeth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Sores in the mouth or pus between your teeth and gums
- Changes in your bite or fit of partial dentures
Millions of people are affected by periodontitis and don't know it. The symptoms may not appear until the gum disease is advanced, which can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. This is why regular check-ups and cleanings are vital to your oral health.
What can I expect from my periodontist appointment?
Your periodontist will perform a thorough examination of your mouth, teeth, and gums. By measuring the depth of the pockets around your teeth, they will usually be able to tell how advanced your gum disease has become.
Your periodontist will also ask you questions about your usual oral health regimen as well as some general health questions. Based on this examination or subsequent exams, the periodontist will go over your best options for treatment which may include medication, lifestyle changes, or surgery.
For more information, check out An Introduction to Periodontics.
What are the treatments that a periodontist performs?
Based on the stage of periodontitis, your specialist may suggest either non-surgical or surgical treatment options.
Non-surgical treatments can often be very effective in treating mild and moderate cases of periodontal disease. Some of these treatments can include:
- Root planing—smooths the surfaces of the roots of your teeth, reducing inflammation and tartar and bacteria buildup
- Scaling—the process of using traditional or ultrasonic devices designed to remove bacteria and tartar from the surface of your teeth
- Antibiotics—can help to control the spread of the periodontitis-causing bacteria in your mouth
Advanced cases of periodontitis sometimes require surgical intervention. Some of these treatments can include:
- Pocket reduction surgery—by making tiny cuts in your gums, your periodontist can access and clean the roots of your teeth more effectively and making it easier to clean your gum tissue after recovery
- Soft tissue grafts—soft tissue is taken from another location in your mouth, often the roof, and then connected to your gums, correcting receding gum lines
- Bone grafts—when severe periodontitis has led to bone loss in your mouth, a bone graft replaces the missing portion of your jawbone, stimulating the production of new bone, making chewing easier, and preventing tooth loss
- Tissue regeneration—by placing a portion of safe, bio compostable tissue between your jawbone and tooth, bone regrowth is stimulated, helping your mouth recover from the damage caused by bacteria
Your periodontist will go over which treatment options are best for your unique situation. After your treatment, your periodontist will check up on you routinely and make sure that the treatment has been effective. If you are seeking to get dental implants, it is imperative that your mouth is healthy and periodontitis has been treated.
After your recovery, it is vital to practice good oral hygiene habits: brushing every surface of your teeth and your tongue at least twice daily and most importantly, flossing between the crevasses of every tooth. Regular flossing is the only way to remove food particles left behind by your toothbrush and reduce plaque buildup between your teeth.
If you are having any problems with your oral health, it is critical to have a dental check-up right away. The sooner periodontitis is treated, the sooner you can be on your way to a healthy, beautiful smile. Learn more about periodontics or contact the dental experts at North Shore Smile Surgery to schedule your exam.