What is a Periodontist?
A Periodontist is a dentist who has specialized in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases affecting the supporting structures of teeth including gums and bone. A Periodontist has extensive training in dental implant treatment planning and surgery. He or she has had an additional 2-3 years of training after dental school in the evaluation and treatment of periodontal and peri-implant disease. He or she performs both surgical and non-surgical procedures.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial driven disease that affects the gum and bone that support the teeth. It is also known as “gum disease.” Periodontal treatment limits the damage of the disease and keeps your mouth healthier. In the early stages of periodontal disease there are usually no symptoms. This “silent” disease damages the gums, and leads to bone loss around the teeth. Without treatment, it will only get worse and will eventually lead to tooth loss.
Some warning signs of periodontal disease are:
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing or eating hard food
- Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
- Separating or loose teeth
- Pus between the gums and teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Change in the way your teeth fit together with you bite
Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life by periodontal disease. Shockingly, adults over the age of 35 lose more teeth to periodontal disease than from cavities.
What causes Periodontal Disease?
Plaque caused from food and bacteria produce toxins that irritate the gum tissue. This may cause them to be red, swollen and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing periodontal pockets along the tooth. As the disease progresses, the supporting gum tissue and bone that hold teeth in place deteriorates.
There are many risk factors for periodontal disease; some you can control and others you cannot. Although age is not a risk factor, often older people have more severe disease because there has been more time for damage to take place. Risk factors include: smoking, inadequate oral hygiene, diabetes, stress, teeth grinding, hormone changes, compromised immune system, genetics, and certain medications.
How do you manage Periodontal Disease?
The sooner you are treated, the better the outcome. Special dental cleanings known as “periodontal maintenance”, medications, non-surgical and surgical procedures are the most common treatments. If the disease is caught in the early stages, non-surgical procedures may be adequate for disease resolution. However, more advanced stages of the disease may need to be treated with surgical procedures. Treatment of the disease can save teeth that you may have been in danger of losing. The most important factor in managing periodontal disease is you. You will need to commit to taking better care of your teeth at home and regular periodontal maintenance appointments.
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