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Periodontists specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease as well as dental implant placement. Periodontists are general dentists who receive up to three years of additional training after dental school to obtain the necessary credentials to perform periodontal procedures. Your general dentist may refer you to a periodontist if you have symptoms of gum disease or need a dental implant. You can also see a periodontist on your own if you are concerned about your oral health.
“Periodontal” simply means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease is attributed to the bacteria in dental plaque, which causes gum inflammation and infection. Factors such as tobacco use, poor nutrition, stress or pregnancy can put you at risk for developing periodontal disease.
Healthy gums should not bleed when you brush your teeth. Bleeding is one of the early signs of gum disease. You should see a periodontist for a complete screening.
Good oral hygiene is imperative for preventing periodontal disease. Proper brushing and flossing, together with regular dental visits and professional cleanings twice each year, can keep your smile healthy for life.
A periodontist can determine if a dental implant is your best option. Dental implants have a natural look and feel and can help prevent shifting of the surrounding teeth. Many people prefer implants to bridges or dentures because they are more secure, they help prevent bone loss and they do not affect adjacent teeth.
Whether you need surgery or not will depend on how advanced your periodontal disease is. There are also nonsurgical treatments such as scaling and root planing for people with milder forms of periodontal disease. Even if periodontal surgery becomes necessary, advanced technology such as dental lasers make it possible for in-office procedures with little discomfort.
We use maintenance therapy to help prevent further infection for patients who have already had periodontal treatment. We tailor a program for each patient’s specific needs. The program may include more frequent checkups and professional cleanings (four times per year or more), plaque and tartar removal and polishings.
We use crown lengthening to correct “gummy” smiles. We reshape the gums and supporting tissues to expose more of the tooth and reduce the gumline.
Left untreated, receding gums can lead to tooth loss. We can correct this condition with soft tissue grafts that also prevent further recession or bone loss. We can even out the gumline and reduce sensitivity to heat and cold.