When most people think about oral health, they fixate on their teeth. In reality, there are a number of different things that can affect a person’s smile and jaw function. Periodontics addresses a few of these elements, while providing treatments for serious oral health issues.
What Does Periodontics Entail?
Periodontics is a branch of dentistry focusing on the structures that surround and support the teeth. A periodontist is a dental professional who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease. Periodontists also have expertise in the placement of dental implants and the treatment of oral inflammation.
To become a periodontist, dentists must receive extensive training in these specific areas, while attaining three additional years of education beyond traditional dental school. They will also be highly trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures, along with restorative treatments that prioritize both aesthetics and function.
What Does a Periodontist Do?
Periodontists offer a broad spectrum of treatments, including scaling and root planing, during which the infected surface of a tooth’s root is cleaned. They also perform root surface debridement, involving the removal of damaged tissue.
Periodontists are typically called upon to treat complicated or advanced cases of gum disease. Their experience and special training enables them to diagnose the underlying causes of the disease and offer the most appropriate treatments and restorative procedures. That said, they typically also work in conjunction with a patient’s general dentist, tailoring a comprehensive plan to resolve a patient’s gum disease and keep it from recurring.
Periodontists must also be skilled at performing oral surgery and are specially trained to place, maintain and repair dental implants.
Who Should See a Periodontist?
While a general dentist can manage certain periodontal issues; more serious issues require the attention of a highly trained periodontist. This is especially important, since research has linked periodontal disease to a variety of chronic health problems, including diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, respiratory disease and certain forms of cancer.
According to the American Dental Association, nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 30 suffer from some sort of gum disease. While the cause of this isn’t fully understood, it does suggest that periodontal diagnosis and treatment may demand the increased level of expertise that comes with a trained specialist. That said, patients with moderate or severe gum disease are typically best managed by a partnership between the family dentist and a periodontist.
What Should I Expect at My Periodontist Appointment?
During a typical visit, a periodontist will review your complete dental and medical histories. He or she will also want to know whether you take certain medication or are being treated for any other health issue, such as diabetes or heart disease, which could impact your periodontal care. It’s also important to inform your periodontist if you are pregnant, since studies suggest that women with periodontal problems could be at a higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as low birth weight and premature deliveries.
Once the periodontist has reviewed your history, he or she will provide a thorough evaluation of your periodontal issue and then provide recommendations for how to best treat the problem.
If you are a Gentle Dental or SmileKeepers patient, you can call your local office for more information on periodontics in your specific office.