A periodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of periodontal disease and the structures that support the teeth, including the gums, bones, and ligaments.
You may need to see a periodontist if you have gingivitis (early-stage gum disease) or periodontitis (advanced gum disease), or if you are experiencing gum recession, tooth loss, or bone loss.
Understanding Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and the bone that supports the teeth. It is caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth that is not removed by proper oral hygiene, leading to inflammation of the gums and the destruction of the supporting bone.
There are two main stages of periodontal disease:
- Gingivitis: This is the early stage of gum disease, and it is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. At this stage, the disease is reversible with proper treatment and good oral hygiene habits.
- Periodontitis: This is the advanced stage of gum disease, and it occurs when gingivitis is left untreated. The bacteria in the plaque start to attack the bone and tissue that supports the teeth, leading to tooth loss.
Symptoms of Periodontitis
Some common symptoms of periodontitis include:
- Swollen, red, or tender gums: Inflammation of the gums is a common symptom of periodontitis.
- Bleeding gums: Gums that bleed easily, especially during brushing or flossing, are a sign of gum disease.
- Bad breath: Persistent bad breath that doesn’t go away after brushing or using mouthwash can be a symptom of periodontitis.
- Gum recession: As the disease progresses, the gums may start to pull away from the teeth, making the teeth appear longer.
- Loose or shifting teeth: As the bone that supports the teeth is destroyed, the teeth may become loose or start to shift.
- Changes in bite or difficulty chewing: As teeth shift or become loose, it can affect your bite and make it difficult to chew properly.
What happens if you don’t treat gum disease?
The dangers of leaving periodontal disease untreated can be severe. If the disease progresses to periodontitis, it can cause irreversible damage to the teeth, gums, and bone, leading to tooth loss. In addition, periodontal disease has been linked to other chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
What Does a Periodontist Do?
A periodontist focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of periodontal disease and other conditions that affect the supporting structures of the teeth, including the gums, bone, and ligaments. Periodontists are experts in the management of gum disease and are trained to perform procedures such as scaling and root planing, gum graft surgery, and dental implant placement.
They also work closely with general dentists and other dental specialists to provide preventative dental care to patients. Periodontists play a crucial role in maintaining the health and function of the teeth and gums, and can help patients achieve and maintain optimal oral health for a lifetime.
Is a Periodontist the same thing as a dentist?
A periodontist must undergo specialized training beyond dental school to specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease. They perform surgical procedures and other treatment options that require an increased level of postgraduate training.
While dentists and periodontists share some common areas of expertise, such as dental exams, cleanings, and fillings, periodontists have specialized knowledge and extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of advanced periodontal disease and other complex conditions.
Common Periodontal Procedures
Some of the most common periodontal procedures include scaling and root planing, which involves removing plaque and tartar from the teeth and smoothing the root surfaces to promote healing. Other procedures may include gum grafts to replace lost tissue, periodontal pocket reduction to eliminate pockets where bacteria can thrive, and dental implants to replace missing teeth. These procedures are essential for maintaining good oral health and preventing serious dental problems such as gum disease and tooth loss.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is one of the most common treatments used to address the early stages of gum disease. The process includes a deep cleaning procedure that removes plaque and tartar from the teeth and root surfaces to promote healing and prevent further damage.
A periodontist can perform various gum surgeries, including gum grafts, to repair or restore the gum tissue that has been lost due to disease or trauma.
If bone loss has occurred due to periodontal disease or tooth loss, a periodontist can perform a bone grafting procedure to regenerate the bone and provide a foundation for dental implants or other restorations.
Dental Implant Placement
A periodontist can place dental implants, which are artificial tooth roots that support a dental crown, bridge, or denture, to replace missing teeth.
When to See a Periodontist
You should consider seeing a periodontist if you are experiencing symptoms of periodontal disease such as red, swollen, or tender gums, bleeding gums during brushing or flossing, or persistent bad breath.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a dental professional as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment. Your dentist may refer you to a periodontist for specialized care if you have advanced gum disease or if you require more complex treatment options, such as gum surgery or dental implant placement.
You may also consider seeing a periodontist if you have a family history of gum disease, smoke or use tobacco products, have diabetes, or have other risk factors for periodontal disease.
Visit My Dental Home for Periodontal Treatment in Markham, ON
Our team of experienced dental professionals is committed to providing our patients with the highest quality of care for their oral health. We use the latest technology and techniques to diagnose and treat periodontal disease in its earliest stages, preventing it from progressing and causing further damage to your teeth and gums. With our personalized approach to treatment, we will work with you to develop a plan that meets your specific needs and goals.