6 Questions to Ask Your Periodontist

What is a Periodontist

Your periodontist has an important job: saving your mouth from disease. These specialists are highly trained, completing three extra years of study beyond their four years of dental school. Their specific concentration? Focusing on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal diseases. In addition, they also specialize in the placement of dental implants and periodontal cosmetic surgeries to help you achieve your best smile.

As a specialist, your periodontist works in conjunction with your dentist to provide the most comprehensive dental care available. Generally, your dentist will refer you to a periodontist if periodontal disease appears to be present, or if you require extensive dental work. But you should consider seeking out a periodontist on your own if you notice signs of periodontal disease. These include:

  • Swollen, tender gums
  • Mouth pain
  • Receding gums
  • Halitosis
  • Loose teeth
  • Bleeding of any kind while brushing, flossing, or eating

For many people a trip to the dentist is an anxiety-inducing event, so it's expected that a visit to the "mouth disease specialist" could cause even more apprehension. But fear not, your periodontist wants nothing more than to see you with a healthy smile, and is available to answer yours questions and alleviate your unease. Here are the top six questions to ask your periodontist and some samples of what you might expect to hear in response. With a solid understanding of what your periodontist can do for you, you can build the confidence to put your mouth in their capable hands.

1. What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal literally means "around the tooth" and that's exactly where periodontal diseases take root. Beginning at the gums, untreated periodontal diseases affect the structure that supports your teeth. Red, swollen, and bleeding gums are the first tell-tale sign of gum disease, usually indicating gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible with proper oral hygiene and regular cleanings, but if it progresses it can cause irreversible periodontal diseases that will damage your gums as well as the bones surrounding your teeth.

2. What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Gingivitis is the first sign, but where does it all stem from? Poor oral hygiene and the buildup of plaque is generally the greatest offender though it is likely that some are genetically predisposed to get periodontal disease. Plaque - the most frequent source of periodontal disease - is the buildup of bacteria on teeth that will spread to the gums as it matures.

3. Are there Different Kinds of Periodontal Diseases?

The two basic periodontal diseases are gingivitis and periodontitis, but there are also many forms of periodontitis. Gingivitis is the least severe form of periodontal disease, causing little or no discomfort and being easily reversible. Periodontitis, however, is a much more serious infection that can eventually lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis also appears in many forms, separated by severity and symptoms.

4. What Can I Do to Combat Periodontal Diseases?

Take care of your mouth! Oral hygiene is the most important component of keeping your mouth healthy. Regular dental visits and following recommended brushing and flossing habits will make a big difference. Also, avoid smoking and pursue a healthy diet that is low in sugars and carbohydrates.

5. What are the Goals of Periodontal Therapy?

Periodontal therapy seeks to:

  • Eliminate the infection
  • Prevent recurrence of the disease
  • Correct damage to the gums, teeth, or bone
  • Establish an oral hygiene routine to correct and prevent severe infection

6. What is Scaling and Root Planing?

Scaling and root planing is the most common procedure utilized to treat periodontal disease. This non-surgical treatment is usually performed with anesthesia and aims to clear the mouth of deep-rooted plaque, tartar, and other bacteria. This is the first course of treatment and if it proves insufficient periodontal surgery may be recommended for certain areas of the mouth.

If you have further concerns or would like more information, do not hesitate to ask your periodontist. Mouth disease is a serious - and little-discussed - problem so take advantage of your periodontist's knowledge and learn as much as you can about prevention and treatment. If you would like to know more about periodontal disease or make an appointment, please contact us today!

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