What Is Periodontal Disease and What Does a Periodontist Do?
Oral or dental health is considered a window to your overall health. That’s because the health of your gums, teeth, and mouth affects your health in general. Luckily, dentists and periodontists are here to help you maintain good oral health as well as prevent and treat serious diseases such as periodontal disease.
While you’re probably familiar with a major part of dentists’ job, you may want to know more about periodontists.
What do they do, how are they different from dentists, when should you visit them, and how do they help treat periodontal disease are just some of the questions we tried to answer so that you can get a better idea of their role in treating periodontal disease and maintaining your oral health.
What Periodontists Do
A periodontist is a dental specialist that prevents, diagnoses, and treats diseases affecting the gums and bones in our mouth, such as gum disease, as well as placing dental implants. Also, they help us manage symptoms of oral inflammation and other advancing gum problems, and perform cosmetic periodontal procedures, WebMD explains.
They have three additional years of education and training beyond dental school, so they are experts in diagnosing underlying conditions and offering the best treatments.
They usually treat patients with serious periodontal cases such as people with a complex medical history or severe gum disease. Some of their treatments include root planing, scaling, and root surface debridement. When it comes to treating severe gum problems, periodontists can also perform various surgical procedures.
What’s more, they are experts in placing, maintaining, and repairing dental implants.
When visiting a periodontist for the first time, they will review your complete dental and medical histories, examine your gums, check your teeth to see if some of them are loose, and estimate how your teeth fit together when biting.
They will also check the depth of your periodontal pockets with an instrument called a probe, in order to check your gum health. X-rays are also possible to check the condition of your bone below your gum line, Perio.org explains.
What Type of Procedures Do Periodontists Perform?
Periodontists perform a wide range of treatments and procedures from root planing and scaling to complex surgeries. According to ImpressionsDental, some of these procedures are:
- Deep cleanings, root planing, and scaling – to remove tartar and plaque from the periodontal pockets.
- Tray delivery systems – to help keep medication in the periodontal pockets.
- Dental implants – to provide dental implants in an effective and painless procedure. Sometimes this may require pulling a patient’s tooth due to periodontal disease before replacing it with a dental implant.
- Regeneration – to help the body regenerate bone and tissue by eliminating bacteria with the help of a surgical procedure that involves folding back gum tissue.
- Soft tissue grafting – to cover exposed roots by taking gum tissue from the palate or another area – a surgical procedure.
- Gingivectomy (crown lengthening or gingival sculpting) – to eliminate extra tissue under local anesthesia. If this surgery is performed on multiple teeth, the result will be a lovely broad smile.
- Periodontal pocket reduction – to prevent damage caused by severe periodontal disease and maintain a healthy smile with a surgery that reduces the periodontal pocket depth and removes bacteria.
- Periodontal laser therapy – to remove the inflamed gum tissue from around the root of your tooth using a laser.
- Plastic surgery procedures – to cover exposed roots, prevent vulnerable roots from decaying, reduce further gum recession, fix uneven gum line or gummy smile, and recapture the gums and jaw’s natural contour.
Periodontist vs Dentist – Key Differences
All periodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are periodontists. In other words, periodontists are dentists with additional education and training that allows them to diagnose and treat the gums and bones supporting the teeth, as opposed to dentists who treat the teeth and gums.
This includes performing surgical procedures on serious and complex cases, treating periodontal disease, and placing dental implants – something which dentists can’t and are not allowed to perform.
Periodontist vs Endodontist – Key Differences
While the periodontist focuses on the health of gums and usually deals with periodontal disease and inflammation, the endodontist focuses on the teeth roots and inner pulp, according to the American Association of Endodontists.
Endodontists perform procedures concerning the inside of teeth, including surgeries on the pulp and root of teeth. On the other hand, periodontists perform surgical procedures concerning the gums.
Periodontist vs Oral or Maxillofacial Surgeon – Key Differences
Periodontists are concerned about gum health and dental implants, so they perform surgeries on the gums. On the other hand, oral or maxillofacial surgeons perform surgeries on the face, jaw, teeth, and mouth required because of injuries, birth defects, and tumors.
When Is It Time to See a Periodontist?
Your dentist can treat minor gum problems, but they will refer you to a periodontist if you have aggravating gum disease, a risk of tooth loss, or a complex case, WebMD explains.
Here are the signs that indicate you should visit your dentist to see if you need help from a periodontist:
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Gums that bleed easily when eating, flossing, or brushing
- Bad breath
- Painful chewing
- Receding gum line
- Loose teeth
How Often Should You See Your Periodontist?
Your periodontist will recommend exams every three to six months, depending on the severity of your periodontal disease. Together with you, they will create a periodontal maintenance schedule.
“Periodontist Near Me” – How to Pick the Best Periodontist for You
If you are searching for the best periodontist in your area, you can ask your dentist for a referral or do your research and consider the following factors:
- Aggressive or conservative treatment philosophy
- Education and credentials
- Length of time in practice
- Anesthesia and pain management options
- Office hours and location
- Dental insurance plans accepted
- Emergency care options
How Much Does It Cost to Fix Periodontal Disease?
It depends on the severity and stage of the periodontal disease and the treatment required. In general, non-surgical treatments cost less than surgical treatment options, so it costs less if you start treating it early, Healthline explains.
The average price for deep cleaning is around $200, and for surgery around $1000. Dental insurance can cover some periodontal disease treatments.
Is Periodontal Treatment Worth It?
Yes, it is definitely worth it, even if it has progressed into an irreversible stage. According to Healthline, proper treatment can help you avoid tooth extraction, and if you start early, it can prevent you from undergoing invasive treatments.
If you left it untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss, bone loss, painful and bleeding gums, receding gums, diabetes, heart disease, serious infection, etc.
Periodontitis or Periodontal Disease – The Main Concern of Periodontists
Periodontal disease, periodontitis, or more known as gum disease is a common, serious gum infection caused by the acidic by-product of bacteria in the mouth, affecting the gums and sometimes even leading to tooth loss if not treated properly and in time, notes Mayo Clinic.
The bacteria linked to periodontitis are usually gram-negative anaerobic bacteria and can include P. gingivalis, A. actinomycetemcomitans, B. forsythus, P. intermedia, S. intermedius, P. micros, C. rectus, E. nodatum, and Treponema sp., according to a study published in the Journal of New Zealand Society of Periodontology.
A periodontal disease that’s getting worse can destroy the bone supporting the teeth which can loosen the teeth and result in teeth loss. In some cases, it can even lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
While this disease is serious, it’s also preventable. Great ways to prevent it and treat it are to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth every day and visiting your dentist for regular checkups.
Stages of Periodontal Disease
At this point, only the soft tissue of the gums is affected and you may notice mild symptoms such as bad breath, bleeding or swollen gums, increasing space between teeth, and receding gums. Gingivitis is reversible if treated in time.
#2- Slight Periodontal Disease
While you can manage periodontal disease in this stage, you may not reverse it. The infection is now affecting not only the soft tissue but also the bone. You may notice symptoms such as bleeding during brushing your teeth or flossing, and increased redness or swelling of the gums. Your periodontist may suggest a specialized cleaning procedure for this stage of your periodontal disease.
#3- Moderate Periodontal Disease
If your periodontal pockets are deeper, between 6 and 7mm, more bacteria will attack your jawbone and teeth, eventually ending up in your bloodstream and immune system. This is the third stage of periodontal disease which is usually treated with deep cleaning procedures such as root planning and scaling.
#4- Advanced Periodontal Disease
If you have periodontal disease in stage 4, the risk of irreversible bone loss is between 50% and 90%. Common symptoms include painful chewing, swollen and red gums that ooze pus, severe bad breath, extreme cold sensitivity, and loosened teeth. The only treatment at this point is periodontal laser therapy or periodontal surgery to clean your deep periodontal pockets from bacteria and allow healing of your infected tissue.
How Fast Does Periodontitis Progress?
This disease progresses slowly, which means it may start in your teenage years and become noticeable when you’re 40 or 50 years old. During this time, it might have caused serious damage, which is why it’s important to visit your dentist for regular checkups, Independent recommends.
Also, the speed at which the disease will progress depends on a range of factors such as oral hygiene, the condition of the immune system, the type and number of bacteria on the tooth’s surface, genetics, etc.
Can Teeth Bone Regrow?
Periodontal disease is one of the leading causes of teeth loss or jaw bone. Luckily, there are some procedures that can stimulate bone growth, including bone graft and regeneration, notes Gum Health. These procedures can help you obtain more jawbone to support dental implants.
How Long Does Periodontitis Take to Heal?
According to Medical News Today, periodontitis is a chronic, inflammatory disease which means it lasts forever. But, if it’s in the first stage, gingivitis, it can be reversed with proper treatments in about 2 weeks.
Can You Have Dental Implants with Periodontal Disease?
Yes, you can, as long as your periodontitis is being successfully treated. Therefore, it’s best to delay the dental implant placement in case your disease is still not under control. You shouldn’t have problems with your implants if you don’t have an active infection in your mouth.
Even if you’ve had periodontal disease in stage 4 and experienced bone loss, you should still be able to get implants, provided that you have undergone a bone graft to stimulate your bone growth.
Do Gums Grow around Implants?
Gums can grow between your appointment for dental implant placement and the time you get permanent restoration. Therefore, temporary crowns or healing abutments are placed on top of the dental implant to prevent the gum tissue from growing over the implant while healing.
What Is a Periodontal Cleaning?
The aim of deep cleaning or periodontal cleaning is to prevent your periodontal disease from progressing, as opposed to regular cleanings whose purpose is to prevent such problems.
If you have periodontitis and you don’t go to your periodontal cleanings, you risk causing serious damage to your teeth and gums, including losing your teeth.
The cleaning process starts by numbing the affected area in your mouth and cleaning away the debris and calculus under the gum line. It ends by shaping or planning your tooth root to eliminate places where bacteria can accumulate in the future.
What Is The Best Mouthwash for Periodontitis?
According to Very Well Health, some of the best mouthwashes for gingivitis and periodontitis are:
- TheraBreath Healthy Gums Oral Rinse
- Listerine Zero Alcohol Mouthwash
- CloSYS Original Unflavored Mouthwash for Sensitive Mouths
- Colgate Hydris Dry Mouth Mouthwash
Having a good smile is more than just for looks, it also is a good indication of good health and hygiene. Whether you’re looking for a routine periodontal check up or need a deep cleaning, Dr. Cataldo and his team are here to help. A periodontist you can trust, serving multiple areas including Durham, Morrisville, and Raleigh. Contact us here.
To Sum Up
Periodontal disease or more commonly known as gum disease is a common disease affecting the gums. It’s a serious condition that requires proper and timely treatment to prevent it from progressing and causing serious damage to gums and teeth such as tooth loss.
Luckily, you can prevent it by maintaining good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist for regular checkups, as well as your periodontist for treating it while it’s still in stage 1 or gingivitis.
Even if it has advanced into a more serious stage, it’s still manageable, and treating it with the right treatment option recommended by the right periodontist can prevent it from worsening and causing other health complications such as diabetes.