By definition, Periodontists are dentists specializing in periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. As a specialist, the Periodontist emphasizes prevention of gum disease, diagnosis when symptoms present, and surgical treatment, when required. In addition, the Periodontist treats inflammation of the gums. Needless to say, prevention is most important, and the Periodontist will always endorse preventive measures, providing the proper cleaning and care instructions in order to avoid the potential for deterioration.
As a specialist, the Periodontist provides corrective surgical procedures directly related to gum problems. These are problems that cannot otherwise be cared for. Periodontists are highly trained and qualified to perform various procedures, including gum pocket reductions, which reduce the area under the gum to prevent bacteria from flourishing. They go into the gum tissue much deeper than a dental hygienist, using special dental instruments, as well as anti-microbial agents.
As a patient, your gums are vital to oral health, and indeed, to general health. Amongst other ailments, gum disease can potentially lead to tooth loss. As such, Periodontists are focused on treatments and care to avoid problems before they occur. Using high-tech diagnostics and modern treatment methods, Periodontists also perform routine cosmetic procedures related to gum disease. For the patient who presents with even moderate signs of periodontal disease, the best approach is one provided by a Periodontist.
In terms of protocol, the Periodontist will review a patient’s dental history (and medical history) during the first visit. At this point, it’s critical to know if prescribed medications are being taken, or if a patient is being treated for any medical condition, like diabetes or heart disease. The initial examination includes in-depth assessment of gums; checking for gum-line recession; assessing how teeth fit together when biting; and making sure that teeth are not loose. Clearly, a comprehensive initial exam like this is essential.
In keeping with the aim of prevention, periodontal therapy is focused on stopping the progression of gum disease, while strengthening the gums. But prevention is very much dependent on a patient’s self-care. Today, medical evidence suggests that gum disease can be a risk factor in heart disease, respiratory disease, and clogged arteries. In fact, bleeding gums and increased pocket depths may well be an early indicator of diabetes. Finally, smoking has a damaging effect on oral health and reduces the effect of treatment.
As far as Periodontal surgery is concerned, it’s not always immediately necessary, and will be recommended if there is a likelihood of improving long-term stability of the gums. There are, however, procedures that the Periodontist can offer, to stabilize the condition of the gums, and possibly avoid the need for surgery: treatment to control the negative effects of teeth grinding (bruxism); extraction of permanently damaged teeth; antibiotic treatment; and even an effort at smoking cessation.
Regardless of Periodontal treatment administered, patients are encouraged to properly follow daily recommendations for oral health maintenance. Follow-up appointments are vital in monitoring oral health, and in countering minor problems before they become major. The fact is, professional treatment and good oral maintenance will ensure healthy and long-lasting outcomes.