Monday, Sept 13, 2010 By:  Dr Phyllis B Cook
Because your periodontist can detect and treat certain gum diseases for which your dentist is not trained. Periodontists are dentists who have extensive training in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease. They pursue a minimum of three years of specialty training in addition to dental school. Many people go to a periodontist or are referred to one by their dentist when they notice any of the following symptoms:
  • Persistent bad breath;
  • Teeth that are spreading or loose;
  • Bleeding or tender gums; or
  • Pus between the teeth and the gums.
However, you may have gum disease and not have any of these signs. Most people do not experience any pain due to gum disease and then it goes unnoticed. That is why annual periodontal examinations are a good practice. What is Gum Disease? Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is the major cause of adult tooth loss, affecting three out of four persons at some time in their life. The main culprit of gum disease is plaque, a colorless, sticky substance that constantly forms on your teeth. If plaque is not removed, toxins destroy the tissue around your tooth, forming “pockets” that attract more plaque. Unless treated, you could eventually lose your teeth. How is Gum Disease Diagnosed? With regular visits, your periodontist can detect developing gum disease early, before your gums and the bone around your teeth are irreversibly damaged. A small measuring instrument is gently inserted between the tooth and the gum to measure the depth of your pockets. The depth of the pockets determines the extent of the tooth support damage. Based on this examination, along with a set of X-rays, your periodontist will discuss a personalized treatment program for your condition. How is Gum Disease Treated? In the early stages of gum disease all that may be needed is a scaling and root planning. This simply involves removing plaque and tartar in the pockets around the tooth and smoothing the root surfaces. However, maybe your case has progressed and surgical treatment is required. With modern techniques and medication, you should feel no discomfort during these procedures. After surgery, the affected area may be tender or sore. Your periodontist will make sure you have medication to relieve this discomfort. Many patients go back to their normal routine in only a few hours! Will Gum Disease Return? While you probably will not need major work in the same area, periodontal diseases are chronic and require constant, careful attention. Periodontal treatment helps control disease and prevents further destruction to the gums and bone, allowing you to keep your teeth. With an annual visit to your periodontist, and daily brushing and flossing, you can keep gum diseases from becoming more serious or recurring. You don’t have to lose your teeth to periodontal disease.