Why is your dentist referring you to a Periodontist?
Your dentist has determined that your gums require special attention. The periodontist and dentist work together as a team to provide you with the highest level of care. They will combine their experience to recommend the best treatment available to you while keeping each other informed on your progress. By referring you to the specialist, your dentist is showing a strong commitment to your dental health.
What is a Periodontist?
Periodontists are dentists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease. They have had extensive training with two additional years of study after dental school. As specialists they develop their time, energy and skill to helping patient care for their gums. A periodontist is one of the eight dental specialists recognized by the American Dental Association.
What is Periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is the major cause of adult tooth loss. It affects three out of four people. The main cause of the disease is the bacterial plaque – a sticky film which constantly forms on your teeth. If the plaque is not removed it hardens into rough porous deposits (tartar). Toxins produced by the bacteria in the plaque and tartar irritate the gums causing them to appear red, tender and swollen. The gums bleed more readily than healthy tissue. As the disease progresses the toxins damage the tissues which support the teeth. Pockets form around the teeth as more plaque and tartar accumulate in those pockets. Bone loss results. Without treatment the teeth may become loose and are eventually lost. Proper care including conscientious removal of plaque by brushing, flossing and regular professional cleanings. These can minimize the risk of your developing periodontal disease. Heredity, stress, smoking, diabetes and pregnancy may also contribute to the health of your periodontal tissue.
What happens during the periodontal consultation and what does periodontal treatment involve?
The periodontist will review your medical and dental history and examine your teeth and gums. The appearance of your gums, measurements of the pockets around your teeth, and the presence of loose teeth will be recorded. Most often, treatment of the disease begins with a procedure called scaling and root planing. You may have heard it referred to as a “deep cleaning”. The periodontist or hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from the pockets around your teeth. The root surfaces of your teeth will also be smoothed to allow healing of the gums. Advanced cases may require surgical treatment. The purpose of the procedure is to shrink and re-shape the pockets so that they can more easily be cared for at home.
What happens after periodontal treatment?
After periodontal treatment is completed the periodontist will refer you back to your dentist and hygienist for continued care including frequent dental check-ups. The periodontist may also schedule periodic follow-up appointments with you to evaluate your progress. YOU are the most important factor in the treatment of periodontal disease. Your interest, participation and commitment are essential in making your periodontal therapy a success.