Understanding the work of a Periodontist is the first step to knowing if you should consult one. He or she is an oral health specialist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and conditions that affect the supporting tissues of the teeth, gums, and bones. Periodontists are leading experts in the management and treatment of inflammation and surgical procedures for the treatment of gum disease.
These dental professionals also perform interventions of an aesthetic nature to enhance a person’s smile and correct the loss of gum tissue. They also have extensive training in reconstructive surgery, including bone grafting and dental implant placement, all of which can help replace missing teeth.
When should a person consult a specialist?
The most common reason for consulting a periodontal specialist concerns the treatment of gum disease – when it is in its early stages. You should consult a professional when you notice any of the following symptoms, especially if there are other pre-existing health problems:
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Redness or inflammation of the gums
- Bad taste in the mouth or bad breath
- Loosening of teeth
- Displacement of teeth
- Loss of teeth
The role of a periodontal dentist is to treat mild or severe types of periodontal diseases. The most common problems that a dental specialist may address are:
- Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums causing pain and bleeding.
- Light or severe periodontitis: When 4 to 6 mm deep pockets are formed between the teeth and the soft tissues.
- Advanced periodontitis: When the pockets between the soft tissues and the teeth reach more than 6 mm, the person’s bone loss is considerable, and the teeth begin to move freely.
- Missing teeth: A loss of teeth is usually a sign of bone loss; the patient’s teeth must then be attached to the jaw to make them functional again.
The earlier, the better – if a Periodontal Disease can be detected early enough, it will be easier to treat. Do not hesitate to make an appointment with a periodontal specialist as soon as you feel the first symptoms.
What treatment options are available?
A periodontal office should use surgical and non-surgical procedures. Non-surgical treatments include curettage and root resurfacing, which is a deep cleansing procedure performed under anesthesia. During this procedure, the dentist will remove the plaque and calculus that has formed above and on the edge of the gums.
He or she will then smooth out and eliminate the rough areas present on the roots. The gums benefit from a perfectly clean surface and will help to hold the teeth in place better than before. In the most complex cases, the dentist may perform gum restoration surgery and oral support structuring procedures. For example, they may perform a gingivectomy, pocket reduction surgery, soft tissue grafts, bone grafts or guided regeneration.
What should people expect during their first appointment?
Periodontal care professionals should also inform each patient of all the treatment options available. This will help people fully understand the entire process they are about to endure. During the initial visit, the dentist will look at your medical and health history.
He or she will ask you what medications you are taking and will also be able to see if the diseases or health problems present will affect the care you are about to receive (for example, diabetes or cardiovascular disease). If a patient is pregnant, the dentist will also adapt their approach to accommodate the pregnancy. During the consultation, the expert will examine various areas of the gums.
Examinations are necessary to see if there is a recession, if the patient’s jaws are properly aligned, if their teeth are loose or missing, etc. Using a probe, they will measure the depth of the pockets between the teeth and gums, in order to evaluate their health and condition. Finally, the dentist will perform an x-ray to assess the person’s oral health – under the gum line.
Knowing the difference between a periodontist and a general dentist will help people maintain their oral health better. If you live or are visiting the Ocean Springs, MS area and are having oral pains, see a specialist immediately.
Understanding the consequences of various periodontal diseases
Periodontitis has local implications (meaning orally), but it can also have an adverse effect on distant organs. This is why, beyond the simple prevention of dental loss, the treatment of periodontitis contributes to a person’s overall health. People must remember that the mouth is not separated from the rest of the human body!
Blood circulation takes the bacteria that infect the periodontium throughout the body. In recent years, a number of scientific studies have demonstrated the association between periodontitis and various general diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, pulmonary diseases, premature births, obesity, etc. The text below looks further into specific risks.
Recent studies indicate a risk of infarction (heart failure resulting in death otherwise known as a “heart attack”) is multiplied by two in patients with periodontitis. Bacteria and inflammation molecules passing into the bloodstream from the patient’s periodontium contribute to the formation of blood clots that clog the arteries supplying the heart. Once the arteries are blocked, the heart is no longer “fed” and stops beating.
The phenomenon responsible for a stroke is similar. Bacteria and inflammation molecules passing into the bloodstream from the patient’s periodontium contribute to the formation of blood clots that clog the arteries supplying the brain. Once the arteries are blocked, the brain is no longer provided with the proper amount of blood. A stroke is a severe accident resulting in transient or definitive physical and mental disability or death.
There is also a relationship between periodontitis and infective endocarditis (destruction of the valves making the heart work and causing a decrease in its effectiveness). Some bacteria passing into the bloodstream from the patient’s periodontium may damage the heart valves. Once the valves are destroyed, the heart no longer works as efficiently (heart failure).
The presence of periodontitis induces significant difficulties in balancing diabetes. Severe periodontal disease may increase blood glucose levels and insulin doses necessary for the treatment of diabetes. Note: inversely, poorly balanced diabetics offer a favorable periodontal ground for the development of bacteria causing tooth loss.