Just like medicine, dentistry has specialists. And the specialist for gum disease is a periodontist.
Gum disease or periodontitis is a common oral health issue, with 46 percent of adults aged 30 or over experiencing inflamed or infected gums. However, periodontitis progresses through stages from mild to severe, with each stage dictating which medical professional treats the condition.
A dentist is qualified to diagnose and treat a mild gum disease or gingivitis. Yet, 9 percent of the population suffers from severe periodontitis and will require the services of a periodontist. Read on to learn more about what a periodontist does and how they can help you manage gum disease.
What is a periodontist?
Gum disease develops when bacteria and plaque remain on the gums long enough to infect and inflame the gum tissue. If bacteria and plaque aren’t removed, these substances turn into hardened tartar, eroding the gums and bones securing the teeth. Bleeding when brushing, tender gums, and bad breath are the first signs of gum disease. Without treatment, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
A periodontist is a dentist who has received three years of further education in diagnosing and treating diseased gums. Once certified by the American Board of Periodontology, a periodontist is qualified to treat advanced forms of gum disease and perform dental implant surgery.
If you’ve been referred to a periodontist, it’s because your dentist wants you to receive specialized care for gum disease. In addition, if you have risk factors for gum disease, such as smoking or a family history of the condition, your dentist may recommend an evaluation from a periodontist.
What does a periodontist do?
A periodontist will review your health history and status, noting any family history of gum disease or a chronic condition such as diabetes that elevates your risk of periodontitis. They will check any medications you are taking. The periodontist will ask about your dental care routine, whether you brush regularly, and if you smoke. Tobacco use is a leading cause of gum disease.
Then, it’s on to develop a treatment plan for you. To do that, you periodontist will:
Do a complete exam. The periodontist will look at your gums for any signs of disease. They will also measure the gaps between your teeth and gums. A gap larger than three millimeters indicates severe gum disease. You’ll also undergo an X-ray to determine if there is any bone loss.
Prescribe treatment. Your periodontist can suggest several non-surgical and surgical treatments to manage gum disease. In the non-surgical category, scaling and root planing can remove bacteria and plaque from the gums and roots. Bone or gum tissue grafts may be needed for more advanced cases to keep the tooth secure. Other methods include procedures to regenerate the gum tissue or close up the pockets between the gum and tooth. A qualified periodontist will perform all such procedures.
Set up a treatment schedule. Treatments may take more than one visit, so your periodontist will schedule a treatment plan for you. How often you see the periodontist for a checkup depends on the severity and stage of your gum disease. Those with risk factors for gum disease, such as smoking, diabetes, or a family history, may require more frequent visits every few months. If you have a milder form of gum disease, you may only need a follow-up exam every six months.
Develop a maintenance/prevention plan. Although gum disease cannot be reversed at the more advanced stages, it can be managed to prevent further damage to the gums and tooth loss. A maintenance plan will include how often you should see the periodontist and the steps you can take at home to stop the gum disease from progressing. Regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash are effective home-based ways to remove excess bacteria and plaque. If you smoke, your periodontist may recommend joining a smoking cessation program to preserve your gum health.
Your gums are just as important as your teeth!
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Casper, Wyoming, location today! With more than ten years of experience, our highly trained dentists can check your gums for any signs of disease and get them healthy again with treatment. Don’t live near our Casper, Wyoming, office? Find one of our other locations near you.
1530 Centennial Ct.
Casper, WY 82609