As periodontists, we are, in fact, dentists who specialize in treating the soft oral tissues (gum disease) and the jawbone underneath as it supports your teeth. Our training involves graduating from an accredited dental school earning a 4-year undergraduate college degree and then pursuing another three years of study in a periodontology residency training program. We focus on managing periodontal disease using surgical and nonsurgical treatments and specializing in dental implants for missing teeth. After that additional training, we receive a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) degree.
While dentists specialize in treating your teeth and gums, we specialize specifically on treating gum disease. It is important because it is a serious oral infection and progressive disease that can develop when harmful, bacteria-laden dental plaque and calculus are allowed to build up along the gum line bordering your teeth. Left unchecked, combined with poor oral hygiene care, this plaque will progressively damage the teeth, gums, and vital jaw bone material, potentially leaving you with tooth loss!
Gum Disease Signs
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums
- Loose teeth or receding gums
- One or more missing teeth
- Painful toothache, bad breath or bite problem
Prevention and Treatment
The good news is we can help you prevent and treat gum disease and even reverse it. If you have tooth loss from gum disease, dental implants are often the best solution to replace them. Properly placed dental implants can successfully anchor your tooth replacement (crown, bridge or dentures) by functioning like a natural tooth root. Dental implants not only give you your healthy smile back, but they protect jaw bone density and keep your surrounding teeth in their place, so they don’t shift into the spaces left behind from missing teeth.
When you come to us for oral care, we will evaluate your oral health and assess whether you have gum disease. From there, we can treat your condition to help you prevent the more advanced stage of periodontal disease. Our work is to help your gums stay healthy, prevent bone loss and provide dental implants as needed.
In addition to treating any bacterial infection causing problems with your gums, we can help you understand how you can best take care of your smile. Proper oral hygiene at home can minimize harmful bacteria from jeopardizing teeth by keeping them clean. Your daily efforts make all the difference, and when combining them with regular professional dental cleanings, you will be giving your smile the preventative medicine it needs to stay healthy!
- Gingivitis (early-onset gum disease): A mild inflammation of your gums where they may appear red, tender and bleeding.
- Mild to moderate periodontitis: This will result in pockets developing between your teeth and soft tissues measuring anywhere from 4-6mm.
- Advanced periodontitis: If periodontitis is untreated, those developing pockets grow to over 6mm in depth. You can lose bone density at this stage, and you have teeth shifting or even falling out.
- Replacing lost teeth: If deteriorating bone loss has left you with one or more missing teeth, we can implant a natural-looking prosthetic tooth or dental implant (anchored securely into the jawbone).
- After treating periodontitis, we can also recontour the hard tissue to restore your smile so that it looks natural and aesthetically pleasing through osteoplasty.
- If periodontitis has led to gum recession making your teeth look longer, the soft tissue can be recontoured through gingivoplasty. Gingivoplasty either removes tissue or straightens the gum line, giving you a more even appearance.
- To make sure you can receive a dental implant if the remaining bone density is insufficient, a bone graft can support the implant and hold the prosthetic tooth.
- We can clean those soft tissue pockets surrounding teeth with a deep pocket cleaning. It involves scaling and root planing the teeth to get rid of oral debris and harmful bacteria.
- We can remove a segment of the surrounding gingival tissue to expose the natural tooth with the help of crown lengthening.
Enlisting the Help of a Periodontist
Whether your dentist determines you have gum disease or you are seeing the signs of gum disease, we invite you to reach out to our periodontal team for help. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition and the leading cause of tooth loss for adults living in developed countries, so it’s nothing to be ignored, and we are ready to help!