When it comes to dental care, most people know to visit their general dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings. But what about when you need specialized care for your gums? Do you know when it’s time to see a periodontist?
Periodontics is a specialized field of dentistry that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease. While general dentists are trained to provide basic gum care, periodontists have advanced training and expertise in diagnosing and treating more complex gum issues.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of gum disease, such as bleeding, swelling, or receding gums, it’s important to seek the advice of a periodontist. In this article, we’ll explore the role of a periodontist, when to see one, and how they can help you maintain healthy gums for a lifetime.
What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. These dental professionals receive specialty training in periodontics, including additional years of education beyond dental school. They are experts in the latest techniques for gum disease treatment and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.
Understanding Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is a form of advanced gum disease that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. It is caused primarily by bacteria in dental plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. If not removed through daily brushing and flossing, plaque can build up and the bacteria can infect not only your gums and teeth but eventually the gum tissue and bone that support your teeth.
Untreated periodontal disease can lead to gum line recession, tooth decay, tooth loss, bone loss, and deterioration of the jawbone. Periodontitis has also been linked to a number of other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, respiratory disease, and certain types of cancer.
Symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Periodontal pockets between your teeth and gums
Can you prevent severe gum disease?
Absolutely! Preventing severe gum disease is not only possible but also critical for maintaining overall oral health. Here are some tips to help you prevent gum disease.
- Regular Brushing and Flossing: Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing daily can help remove the plaque that can lead to gum disease.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking is strongly associated with the onset of gum disease. It can lower the chances of successful treatment and is the leading cause of teeth loss.
- Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings: Visiting your dentist for routine check-ups and professional cleanings is vital. During these visits, your dentist can detect the early stages of gum disease (gingivitis) and can provide appropriate treatments to prevent its progression.
Difference Between a Dentist and a Periodontist
While both dentists and periodontists work to promote oral health, there are key differences between the two. All periodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are periodontists. After completing dental school, periodontists receive additional training, focusing specifically on the gum’s health and underlying structures of the teeth.
A general dentist can handle routine dental care and minor dental procedures, such as cleanings, fillings, crowns, and some minor surgical procedures. However, when gum disease becomes advanced or when complex care is needed, like the placement of dental implants, a periodontist is typically required due to their advanced level of expertise.
When Should a Patient Be Referred to a Periodontist?
A patient might need to see a periodontist if their gums are in poor condition or if they exhibit symptoms of advanced periodontal disease. Dentists may also refer a patient to a periodontist for treatment options that go beyond their scope, such as gum grafts, bone grafts, or periodontal surgery.
It’s not uncommon for a patient to question, “Why would my dentist send me to a periodontist?” In essence, a referral is in your best interest to ensure you receive specialized care for complex issues.
Common Conditions a Periodontist Can Treat
A periodontist is equipped to handle a wide range of gum-related diseases and conditions due to their specialized training. Here are some of the most common conditions that a periodontist can treat:
- Gingivitis: This is the initial stage of gum disease, marked by inflammation and redness of the gums, which can bleed easily when brushed or flossed.
- Periodontitis: This is an advanced form of gum disease, which can result in the destruction of the bone tissue that supports the teeth.
- Gum Recession: This condition occurs when the margin of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth wears away, exposing more of the tooth or the tooth’s root.
- Gum Infections: Periodontists can treat oral infections that affect the gums, like periodontal abscesses.
- Periodontal and Dental Implant Maintenance: Periodontists can provide treatments to maintain the health of dental implants and manage any issues that might arise around them, such as peri-implantitis, an inflammation of the tissues surrounding a dental implant.
- Cosmetic Gum Procedures: Periodontists are also skilled in cosmetic procedures, such as crown lengthening, gum grafting, and ridge augmentation, to enhance the aesthetics of the gum line and overall smile.
Contact North Atlanta Family Dentistry for Periodontal Treatment in Johns Creek and Cumming, GA
At North Atlanta Family Dentistry, we value the health and comfort of our patients above all else. Our experienced periodontists work closely with general dentists to provide comprehensive periodontal services. If you’re experiencing signs of periodontal disease, we’re here to help.
Your dental health is crucial to your overall well-being. Don’t put off seeking help if you’re experiencing any signs of gum disease. Contact North Atlanta Family Dentistry today for periodontal care in Johns Creek and Cumming, GA.