periodontist  specialist

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.

Periodontists undertake an additional three years of training, so they have extensive knowledge and insight into the signs and impact of gum disease. They also have extensive experience in treatment planning to help get things back on track.

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. This is often in more advanced cases where extensive treatment is required.

It would be more common for your general dentist to refer you to a dental hygienist to get mild cases under control. If there is a risk of tooth loss and surgical intervention is required, then a gum disease specialist might be required.

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:

  • Bleeding gums

  • Red or swollen gums

  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth

  • Receding gums

  • Sensitive teeth

  • Deep pockets between the teeth and gums

  • Loose teeth

  • Tooth loss

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.

They might also take X-rays and CT scans to get a better idea of what is going on under the surface. X-rays can reveal bone loss which is caused by extensive gum disease.

Is there a cure for gum disease?

Gum disease is very treatable at every stage of the condition. There are steps we can take to stop the spread and reverse the damage. In the early stages of the condition, you may be able to get it under control by simply visiting the dental hygienist.

As the condition advances, further intervention may be required. For example, you might need surgical procedures to protect the teeth and avoid tooth loss.

In the event of tooth loss due to gum disease, we can then address the functional and aesthetic side by using dentures, dental implants or bridges to close the gaps in your smile.

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.

Does a periodontist do deep cleaning?

Since deep cleaning is often the treatment plan for periodontal disease, they may offer this treatment. However, it is often better handled by a dental hygienist. The periodontist may offer specialist cleaning in very advanced cases. Otherwise, they will refer you to their hygienist services for a general cleaning.

Can I refer myself to a periodontal specialist?

This isn’t necessary. A trip to your regular dentist will reveal if you need to see a specialist or not. If you are concerned about loose teeth or receding gums, book a routine checkup with your usual dentist. If it has been a while since you last visited the dentist, there may be other issues that need to be addressed, such as tooth decay. A general dentist is best equipped to handle your overall oral health and will always refer you to a specialist, if required.

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