What is a periodontal specialist?
Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease. It is a serious condition that affects the soft tissue around your teeth.
When the gums are damaged by infection, they will eventually begin to recede, which will leave more of the tooth surface exposed. When this happens, the tooth will have less support and may become loose. Gum disease can therefore lead to tooth loss.
A periodontal specialist is someone who specialises in the treatment of gum disease. They are specially trained to diagnose, treat and prevent gum disease in their patients. A gum disease specialist might help to diagnose gum disease and then create a treatment plan to reverse the damage before it is too late.
Are all dentists gum disease specialists?
No. While all dentists are trained to be able to spot the signs of gum disease and provide treatment, not all dentists specialise in this form of dentistry. A periodontal specialist will focus on this branch of dentistry alone, so they will have far more experience treating gum disease.
If you suspect you have gum disease, you don’t have to seek out a periodontal specialist, you can simply visit your usual dentist. They may refer you to a gum disease specialist if they believe it is necessary.
What do gum disease specialists look for?
A gum disease specialist will perform a full oral health check to look for the signs of gum disease. Common signs of gum disease include:
Red or swollen gums
Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
Deep pockets between the teeth and gums
During the examination, the periodontal specialist might ask questions about your brushing habits. For example, they might want to know if you ever spit out blood when you brush your teeth.
They will also examine your teeth and gums for signs of periodontal disease. They might gently push between the tooth and gum at different points to see if there are deep pockets caused by gum disease.
What treatment can periodontal specialists offer?
Since gum disease is often caused by the presence of plaque and tartar, specialised deep cleaning is often recommended. Scaling and planing the teeth will help to remove all traces of plaque and tartar from the teeth and below the gum line.
A periodontist might also prescribe a treatment that is applied directly to your teeth overnight. This will require custom made trays.
There are also surgical options that may have to be considered in more advanced cases of gum disease. A gum graft can help to provide support to any teeth that are left exposed by gum disease. This treatment involves taking tissue from the roof of your mouth and using it to cover the gum line.
Periodontal specialists can also offer treatments that are purely for aesthetic reasons. For example, if you have a gummy smile or uneven gum line, dental crown lengthening may be an option. Ridge augmentation may also be required to help make the gum line appear more natural after a tooth restoration.