WHAT IS A PERIODONTIST?
Understanding what a periodontist is, is the first step to knowing if you need to pay one a visit.
A periodontist is a dental specialist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and conditions that affect the supporting tissues of the teeth, including the gums and bone. They have had an additional three years of specialty University training upon completing dental school.
They are the leading experts in the management of gum inflammation and surgical procedures to treat gum diseases. They perform highly aesthetic procedures to enhance your smile and correct receding gums. They also have extensive training in reconstructive surgeries, like bone grafting and dental implant placement, to help replace missing teeth.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE A PERIODONTIST?
The most common reason for visiting a periodontist is for treating early onset gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. It’s time for a visit if you begin exhibiting the following signs and symptoms, especially if you have other pre-existing health concerns:
- Bleeding when brushing/ flossing
- Redness, inflammation of the gum
- Bad taste or breath
- Loose or moving teeth
- Shifting teeth
- Tooth loss
The role of a periodontist is to treat everything from mild to severe periodontal disease. Common conditions they treat include:
Gingivitis: mild inflammation of the gums, resulting in pain and bleeding
Mild/ Moderate Periodontitis: when there are 4-6mm pockets between the teeth and soft tissues.
Advanced Periodontitis: when pockets between the teeth and soft tissues exceed 6mm, and there may even be significant bone loss and shifting of the teeth.
Missing Teeth: missing teeth are often a sign of bone loss, and they must be anchored back to the jawbone to restore functionality.
The earlier periodontal disease is detected, the easier it is to treat. So do not hesitate to book an appointment if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
WHAT TYPES OF TREATMENT DOES A PERIODONTIST USE?
Periodontists will utilize both surgical and non-surgical treatments.
Non-surgical treatments may include scaling and root planning, which is a deep cleaning procedure performed on a patient while under anaesthesia. This is where the periodontist scrapes away plaque and tartar from above and especially below the gum lines. They will also smooth out any rough spots on your roots. This leaves a clean surface allowing for your gums to reattach to your teeth.
In more complex cases, your periodontist may opt to use surgical treatments to restore your gums and oral supporting structures. These can include flap or pocket reduction surgery, soft tissue grafts, guided regeneration, bone grafts, and bone surgery.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT DURING THE FIRST VISIT?
A periodontist will help educate you about your treatment options, so you can fully understand the process. During your first visit, your doctor will review your complete medical and dental histories. They will need to know about any medications being taken or if you currently have any conditions that could affect your periodontal treatment, including pregnancy, diabetes, and heart disease.
They will then examine your gums to inspect gum line recession, jawbone alignment, and if you have any loose or missing teeth. They will take a probe in order to measure the depth of the pockets between the teeth and gums to determine teeth and gum health. Finally, they may take x-rays to determine your oral health under your gum line.
Knowing the difference between what a periodontist is and a regular dentist will help safeguard your oral health and help you determine if you need to pay a one a visit.