What is a Periodontist Trained to Do?
Periodontists are dentists who specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of periodontal diseases. Their main focus is gums, bones, and connective tissue supporting the teeth. For those reasons, periodontists must receive comprehensive training focused on treating the above with a thorough understanding of oral health and overall health.
After a formal 4 year dental education, the periodontist spends an additional 2 to 3 years training in a residency program that is accredited by the American Dental Association. After successful completion of the accredited training program in periodontics and dental implants, periodontists may earn national board certification from the American Board of Periodontology (ABP) by passing comprehensive written and oral examinations covering all phases of periodontal disease and treatment.
A periodontist must be licensed as a dentist as well as a periodontist. They also have hospital-based training on sedation and have a license for that to maintain patient comfort. Periodontists can work in dental schools, hospitals, the business sector, and state, national and international agencies. They can also focus on research opportunities, such as testing emerging therapies and studying the interrelationships between periodontal and systemic diseases.
PERIODONTAL DISEASE IS A TERM FOR A GROUP OF DIFFERENT DISEASES.
These diseases have the same outcome: loss of attachment of the gum to the tooth, loss of connecting tissue and bone to your teeth. A periodontist is skilled in many types of periodontal procedures. In the early stages of gum disease, normally referred to as gingivitis, general dentists are trained and educated to treat the problem but if the problem worsens the dentist will recommend you see a periodontist for more advanced periodontal procedures to obtain health and save teeth. This will especially occur if the disease progresses and involves both a gum and bone infection, called periodontitis. This may involve cleaning the surfaces of the root to remove tartar, plaque and bacterial toxins from the gum pockets. This may also involve non-surgical periodontal treatment or a gingivectomy or gingivoplasty with a laser.
In many cases after this extensive cleaning, if the patient flosses and brushes daily, they will have successful results. In more extreme cases of periodontal infections, a periodontist is skilled in regeneration (bone regrowing). Today this doesn’t have to involve folding the gum tissue back to remove bacteria and infection but instead may involve using a laser along with bone grafts to regrow the bone in a kinder and more gentle manner. This procedure is called the Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP).
Membranes (filters), bone grafts or tissue-stimulating proteins are used to encourage your body’s natural ability to regenerate bone and tissue.
ANOTHER AREA OF EXPERTISE FOR A PERIODONTIST IS PERIODONTAL PLASTIC SURGERY.
If you have an exposed root, a periodontist can regrow the gum over the root to save your teeth so you can smile and eat with confidence again. This procedure is referred to as connective tissue grafting. This will reduce your sensitivity and even out your gum line. Some patients may have excess gum showing, so a crown lengthening procedure can be performed to enhance the beauty of the smile. This is where the bone tissue and the gum excess is reshaped to show more of the natural tooth.
SOME PERIODONTISTS WILL PERFORM RIDGE AUGMENTATION.
This procedure is used to correct gum and jawbone indentations (holes in the gum and bone from infection and tooth loss). It is also used to recapture the natural contour of your jaw and gum, so it appears that tooth replacements are growing naturally out of the tissue of the gum.
IN ADDITION, PERIODONTISTS ARE SPECIALLY TRAINED IN THE PLACEMENT, MAINTENANCE, AND REPAIR OF DENTAL IMPLANTS.
If you have lost a tooth through periodontal disease, decay, a fracture, or some other situation the periodontist will perform a dental implant. Dental implants are replacement tooth roots. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed (permanent) or removable replacement teeth that are made to match your natural teeth. During the procedure, an artificial root post is placed in your jaw, after an initial healing period an artificial tooth will be attached to the post. In some situations, teeth may be able to be placed the same day as dental implant placement.
If you are concerned that you may have advanced periodontal disease or you already have a systemic disease such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease or a missing tooth/teeth, you may consider seeing a periodontist right away before the problems worsen. Normally, if you are having any of these issues, your dentist will recommend you see a periodontist. Upon that first visit, you will be evaluated and a medical history will be taken. The periodontist will examine your mouth, throat, teeth, gums and jaw joints. After this X-rays will be taken and the periodontist will discuss and develop a treatment plan.