Periodontics

Periodontics

Overview

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and tissues that support your teeth. It is caused most often by the build-up of plaque and tartar when teeth are not routinely brushed and flossed. Other contributors to this disease include medical issues such as diabetes and consuming too much sugary food or drinks.

There are two major stages of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontis. Gingivitis affects only the gums. It is a mild form of periodontal disease, and if properly treated may be reversed. Left untreated, gingivitis turns into periodontis. During this more destructive disease stage, bacteria penetrate into the deeper pockets of tissue where bone and membrane support your teeth. Periodontis can lead to tooth loss and serious health problems.

Research shows that 75% of Americans over the age of 40 have some type of gum disease which is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. It is possible to have periodontal disease and not know it because its symptoms are often painless. The best way to avoid or manage periodontal disease is by having good oral hygiene, and seeing your dentist for your routine dental checkups.

People At-Risk

You may be at risk for periodontal disease if you

  • Do not practice good oral hygiene
  • Smoke or chew tobacco
  • Have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis
  • Have a family member diagnosed with periodontal disease
  • Are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant

In addition, the following types of prescription drugs may also increase the risk of periodontal disease. Talk with your Dentist if you are taking:

  • Steroids
  • Cancer therapy drugs
  • Oral contraceptives
  • An anti-epilepsy drug
  • A calcium channel blocker

About Periodontists

Periodontists are qualified Dentists who have an additional three years of education and specialized training in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease. They also perform dental implant surgery and cosmetic periodontal procedures to help improve a smile. Your Periodontist will work closely with your Dentist to manage your oral health.

Warning Signs

Periodontal disease is considered "silent" because pain does not always accompany its warning signs. See your Dentist if you experience:

CHANGES TO TEETH, BITE, OR DENTAL WORK

  • Loose or separating teeth
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Bridges or partial dentures that no longer fit properly
  • Fillings that have become defective

CHANGES TO GUMS

  • Recurring redness, puffiness, tenderness, or swelling of your gums
  • Bleeding of gums while brushing teeth, using dental floss, or biting into hard food (like an apple)
  • Gums that are pulling away (receding) from your teeth, causing them to look longer

BAD MOUTH ODORS OR TASTES

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Persistent metal taste in your mouth

MOUTH SORES

  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • A sore or irritation in your mouth that does not improve within two weeks

Periodontal Treatments

There are many patient-specific variables involved with treating periodontal disease. Much depends upon the stage of infection and the amount of deterioration involving your gums, teeth, supporting tissues, and bone.

After reviewing your x-rays and performing a thorough periodontal exam, your Periodontist will discuss non-surgical or surgical treatment options to you, answer your questions, and explain what to expect:

  • During and after the procedure(s)
  • The number of office visits required for treatment
  • What to do at home as your gums heal
  • How to keep periodontal disease under control after treatment is complete

NON-SURGICAL

The most well known type of non-surgical treatment is scaling and root planing. This under-the-gum procedure involves a careful removal of plaque and tarter from the tooth roots. During this procedure your roots are smoothed to expose and remove harmful bacteria. Root smoothing along with the practice of good oral hygiene can help prevent plaque from accumulating again.

SURGICAL

Periodontal surgery may be needed to eliminate bone infections or to regenerate lost bone. The most common surgical treatments include:

POCKET REDUCTION

During this procedure, a local anesthetic is applied The gum tissue is folded back to expose deeper tissues. Then, harmful bacteria are removed. Irregular surfaces of the damaged bone may need to be smoothed to expose otherwise hidden areas of bacteria before it is removed. Gum tissue is then closed and sutured in place.

BONE REGENERATION

During this procedure, a local anesthetic is applied. gum tissue is folded back to expose deeper tissues. Then disease-causing bacteria are removed. Membranes, bone grafts, or tissue-stimulating proteins are used to encourage your body's natural ability to regenerate bone and tissue and reverse some of the damage of periodontal disease.

Excess gum and bone tissues are then reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. This can be done to one tooth to even out the gumline, or to several teeth to expose a natural, broad smile. Gum tissue is then closed and sutured in place.