Some dentists will choose to specialise in one particular area of dentistry, such as periodontist, which focuses specifically on the soft tissue and jawbone in your mouth. After a dentist has finished their standard dental training, they can then choose to specialise is something – and this will take three more years of academic study, and then a residency in a periodontology area.
Gum disease is the most frequent reason that a patient will need to see a periodontist. This health problem begins when plaque is left on the teeth along with bacteria, because it will start to attack the soft tissue around your teeth, such as your gums. This becomes as infection, and will then go deeper into the gum tissue, reaching and destroying the bone as your gums recede. This creates pockets between the gums and teeth, and bacteria will continue to grow here. If gum disease is not treated, then the jawbone itself can start to recede, leading to tooth loss.
Self-Referral And Referrals From General Dentists
There are two ways that you can see a periodontist: either your dentist or hygienist will find symptoms of gum disease and see refer you to see a periodontist, or you yourself will be concerned that you have some form of gum disease, and you can ask to be seen by a periodontist. Anyone who has any of the below symptoms of gum disease should try to see a periodontist as soon as they can:
- Bleeding when eating or brushing teeth: this is not normal, and if it is happening then it is a clear sign of periodontal disease
- Bad breath: otherwise known as halitosis, this can be a by-product of the bacteria, demonstrating that you have an infection
- Gum recession, loose teeth: as gum disease progresses, it destroys both gum and bone, leading to receding gum lines and teeth that are much more likely to fall out
- Gangrene: it is particularly difficult to diagnose gangrene in yourself, but a dentist or periodontist will be able to notice any presence of gangrene in your mouth, a serious condition
- Other health concerns: the bacteria that causes gum disease can also travel through your blood stream to other parts of the body, which can then cause or greatly enhance heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, osteopenia, and many others
Diagnosis And Treatment
A periodontist will examine your teeth, gums, and jawbone in order to accurately diagnose you if you believe that you have gum disease. Once you have a diagnosis, your dentist will be able to talk through with you the different treatment options that are available, both surgical and non-surgical, depending on how advanced it is. Here are some of the more frequent diagnoses, and how they are treated:
- Gingivitis, or mild gum disease: if gum pockets are larger than 4 mm, then your dentist may choose to perform root scaling and root planing, which removes any debris and bacteria that are within those pockets, so your mouth can heal. You will also be given advice on how to care for your mouth at home
- Moderate gum disease: if gum pockets are up to 6 mm large, a much more extensive treatment of root planing and scaling will be given to you with a local anaesthetic
- Advanced gum disease: if gum pockets are over the 6 mm size, then you will also be experiencing gums receding, and potentially bone loss. Root planing and scaling will be offered, and after that you will probably require pocket reduction surgery that can reduce the area where bacteria can grow
- Tooth loss: periodontal disease can lead to the loss of not one, but many teeth due to the weakening of the gums and bone. Dental implants are offered as a treatment, but only if the bone is strong enough and there is enough of it. If this is not possible, a bone graft may be required so that there is enough bone to anchor the new tooth or teeth
If you are concerned about gum disease, what you can do to treat it, and what options are available to you for dental implants, just contact us to get the information and answers that you need.
If you think that you nay need periodontal work done, call (619) 640-5100 for a free consultation with Dr. Paige Woods, DDS.