What is periodontics?
Periodontics is a special form of dentistry, which focuses on the structures that support the teeth, such as the gums, connective tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. Periodontists diagnose, treat and prevent periodontal diseases, such as gum disease. Periodontists specialize in saving natural teeth and using dental implants when the natural tooth cannot be saved. Periodontists are also experts in treating oral inflammation and infection. Periodontal disease, left untreated, may put patients at greater risk of developing serious health issues, such as heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.
What are the different types of periodontal disease?
There two main forms of periodontal disease are gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Gingivitis is a mild form of periodontal disease, causing the gums to become inflamed, swollen and even bleed. Gingivitis is easily treated with professional treatment and proper home care.
- Periodontal disease results from untreated gingivitis and a buildup of plaque that spreads below the gum line. The result is severe inflammation and infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. The bone and tissue surrounding the teeth are destroyed and can cause teeth to become loose and fall out. Extensive professional treatment, including surgical measures, may be needed to treat periodontal disease.
How is periodontal disease treated?
A periodontist can approach periodontal disease with a variety of methods and procedures, such as:
- Scaling and root planning
- Antimicrobial mouth rinses
- Antiseptic chips
- Oral antibiotics
- Enzyme suppressants
- Flap surgery
- Bone and tissue grafts
The goal of treatment is to control any infection that is causing the disease. The type of treatment used will depend on how advanced the periodontal disease has become. Periodontists will also advise you to improve daily oral hygiene and care. In addition, you will be advised to change certain behaviors, such as quitting smoking if applicable, to improve your condition.
How do I know if I need to see a periodontist?
The decision to see a periodontist should be made if specific symptoms of gum disease are present such as red and swollen gums, bleeding gums, sensitive or loose teeth, pain while chewing, bad breath that cannot be remedied and receding gums. These symptoms are indicators of periodontal disease and require attention from a peridontist. Certain risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing periodontal disease. These include smoking, genetics, hormonal changes, poor nutrition, and certain medications, as well diseases like diabetes. Periodontal disease can be treated more easily if caught early. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as any symptoms occur.