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Do I Need A Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal (gum) disease, and in the placement of dental implants. They are experts in the treatment of oral inflammation as they complete three additional years of education beyond dental school in order to treat periodontal problems. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures and managing complex health conditions.
What is periodontal disease, and am I at risk of developing it? The term “periodontal” simply means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease is generally attributed to “out-of-control” mouth bacteria. Factors, such as smoking or tobacco use, poor nutrition, stress or pregnancy, may also put you at risk of developing gum disease. One in two people have some form of periodontal concern that should be addressed.
Is periodontal disease contagious? Although it is not an airborne disease, research has indicated that the bacteria that cause gum disease can be passed through saliva. Therefore, families and couples who may be in close contact with a person with gum disease are also at risk. We recommend being screened for periodontal disease regularly if you are potentially at risk, particularly if you have a family history of periodontal disease or tooth loss.
My gums bleed when I brush. Is this normal? Healthy gums should not bleed when you brush your teeth. This is one of the early signs of gum disease. Other signs of gum disease include red, swollen or tender gums; sores in your mouth; gums that have pulled away from the teeth; persistent bad breath; pus between the teeth and gums (leaving bad breath); loose or separating teeth; a change in the way the teeth fit together or new spaces; and a change in the fit of partial dentures. If you have any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with an experienced periodontist for a complete periodontal screening.
What is a typical periodontal treatment? Periodontists treat very minor periodontal issues to more problematic periodontal concerns, such as those with severe gum disease or a complex medical history that includes diabetes or cardiac issues. They offer a wide range of treatments, such as deep cleaning, correcting thick or overgrown gums, and growing new bone around your teeth. In addition, periodontists are specially trained in the placement and repair of dental implants.
What happens at my first visit? During your first visit, the periodontist will review your complete medical and dental history. It is extremely important that you share all of the medications that you are taking, or if you’re being treated for any condition that can affect your periodontal care, such as heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy, or lupus. Your periodontist will examine your gums, and check to see if there is any gum or bone loss, assesses how your teeth fit together when biting, and will check to see if any of your teeth are loose. He or she will also use a host of diagnostic tools to evaluate the stability and foundation of your gums and teeth. X-rays are generally taken to observe the health of the bone below the gum line. This is usually a simple and painless process that can give the periodontist a great amount of data to ensure overall dental health and wellness.
Do I need a periodontist? The likely answer is that if you are age 35+, have a family history of tooth and gum issues, have any systemic illness, and/or are considering braces or spending a great deal of money on cosmetic dentistry, it is a good idea to complete a thorough periodontal evaluation right away. Early detection can save you much time and dollars in your dental future.