You’ve gone to your dentist with a nagging issue with your tooth, and they say they want to refer you to a periodontist. However, you might feel a little worried and nervous if you’ve never heard of this term before. So, what is a periodontist, and is visiting one the right course of action for you?
What Is a Periodontist?
Put simply, a periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease and the placement of dental implants. Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease and affects many people, causing chronic inflammation of the gums, which affects the teeth and the bones supporting them.
A periodontist like Dr. I. Stephen Brown completes rigorous training in these areas, attending three further years of education after they complete dental school. As well as managing periodontal disease and placing implants, they also perform related treatments, including:
- Scaling and root planing—cleaning the infected surface of a tooth’s root
- Root surface debridement —removal of damaged root tissue
- Cosmetic periodontal procedures
- Oral inflammation treatment
Some Signs That You Might Need To Visit a Periodontist
In general, you will be referred to a periodontist by your regular dentist. However, your dentist may take care of some periodontal issues without referring, such as dental implants, if they have the required training. Some of the signs that indicate you may need a periodontist include:
A gum abscess occurs when an infection occurs and pus builds up, forming a bump on the gum. This is one of the warning signs of periodontal disease and can lead to tooth loss. If untreated, the gum will come away from the tooth, allowing bacteria to spread into the bone and tooth, weakening the root. This will likely lead to a need for the tooth to be removed.
While most dentists offer tooth removal, a periodontist like Dr. I. Stephen Brown is more skilled at this sort of work and is less likely to damage surrounding teeth and bone. If a tooth is not extracted correctly, it can compromise your future ability to have dental implants and may also require further surgery to correct the damage. In many cases, a periodontist can fit a dental implant the same day they remove the tooth, reducing the need for future interventions.
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, particularly around the gum line, this might indicate that your gums are receding, exposing the roots of your teeth. Without treatment, this is another issue that can lead to tooth loss. Fortunately, your periodontist can perform gum grafts or tissue resculpting to correct this problem. This will prevent further gum loss and protect your teeth and gums from infections and rotting, ultimately saving you from tooth loss.
Changes in the Way Your Teeth Fit Together
If you feel something is a little different when you bite down, this could be a sign of bone loss due to an infection. Unfortunately, you can have an infection in your teeth or gums without feeling any pain, so this might be the first indication that anything is wrong. An untreated root infection can cause damage to your jawbone, causing it to degenerate and grow thinner, altering the contours of your face.
If you suspect you may be suffering from bone loss, you should see your periodontist immediately. They will be able to resculpt the bone, repairing and replacing where required and removing teeth that can’t be saved. They will also replace lost teeth with dental implants once the bone structure is again sound.
What To Expect When You Visit Your Periodontist
When you first visit your periodontist, you will likely be worried and nervous. However, periodontists such as Dr. I. Stephen Brown are professionals who know how to put their patients at ease and surround themselves with items of like-minded people. Dr. Brown and others like him prefer advanced treatments that minimize pain and maximize comfort while providing the best outcomes.
Your First Visit
When you first visit your periodontist, they will perform a detailed examination of your teeth, gums and surrounding bone structure to evaluate what treatments are required. They will also look into your medical history to check if you have any conditions that might rule out certain treatments or require them to be adapted, such as if you have diabetes, heart disease or are pregnant.
The physical examination will involve checking your gum line for recession and checking if any of your teeth are loose. They will also check how your teeth fit together when you bite and measure the gaps between your teeth using a probe. If Dr. Brown suspects issues with your jawbones, he may also request x-rays.
Once Dr. Brown has conducted his initial examinations and medical checks, he will propose a plan for your treatment. This may be as simple as reshaping your gums or removing a tooth and replacing it with a dental implant. Alternatively, it might involve several courses of treatment, including bone grafts and multiple tooth replacements. You can be sure that a reputable periodontist will keep interventions to a minimum and not propose treatments unless they are absolutely necessary.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure!
Periodontal treatments can be invasive, expensive and often pretty painful, so if you can avoid them at all, that’s the wisest route to take. However, even after you’ve had extensive treatment, there are still habits you can adopt that will help prevent the recurrence of periodontal disease and protect your hard-won dazzling smile. Dr. Brown will give some good advice, but some excellent starting points are:
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once
- Attend checkups with your dentist every six months
- Stop smoking
- Avoid sugary snacks—if you can’t resist them, brush your teeth immediately afterward
Of course, sometimes, even with the best preventive measures, you still may need to visit a periodontist. But don’t worry; Dr. I. Stephen Brown will do everything possible to make the process as comfortable as possible. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule an appointment or speak to one of our friendly and professional team members.