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Patient Education

What is a periodontist?

Periodontics is a specialty of dentistry that focuses on the health of the supporting structures of your teeth. A periodontist has completed an additional three years of specialty training beyond the four years required for general dentistry.

During this time they are training in preventing, diagnosing, and treating gum disease. Periodontists are also trained in other aspects of periodontal care including, but not limited to, dental implants, gum grafting and bone regeneration procedures.

Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Gum disease is the process that begins when bacterial growth in your mouth begins to lead to corrosion of your teeth and gums. If left untreated, long term effects include extensive gum deterioration, along with early and unnecessary tooth loss.

There are two stages in gum disease: gingivitis (gum inflammation) followed by periodontitis (gum disease). Within the stages of gingivitis, the bacteria in hardened plaque pockets build up causing the gums to become irritated and swell. When brushing your gums may appear red or may bleed easily. Despite gum irritation, your teeth are still firmly in their place.

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into periodonitits. During this process the gum begins to pull away from the tooth creating pockets where bacteria can collect and spread. Toxins produced by the bacteria, along with enzymes present in your body's natural defense mechanism, begin to eat at the bone and tissue that anchor your tooth. As the process continues, the corrosion spreads and more gum tissue and bone are damaged. When this happens, teeth are no long anchored in place, thus resulting in a potentially severe infection and permanent tooth loss.

While tartar build-up is the leading cause of gum disease, there are additional contributing factors. Some of these include lifestyle habits (i.e. smoking), lowered immune system, systemic conditions (i.e. diabetes), poor oral hygiene or a family history of periodontal disease.

Symptoms include:

  • Gums that are susceptible to bleeding
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Receding gum line
  • Loose or shifting teeth

Some progression of gum disease may be present in your gums despite not having any symptoms. This is a reason why regular dental checkups are important in the prevention and treatment of gum disease. Only a dental of periodontist will b e able to recognize symptoms of gum disease.

If you suspect you may be in need of gum disease treatment or if you have any questions please contact our office.