Your periodontist has additional training beyond the scope of a typical dentist in order to diagnose and accurately provide treatments for many of the diseases that effect the jawbone and soft tissues of the mouth. Periodontal disease is caused by an excess of bacteria in the mouth which rapidly spreads below the gumlines and causes infection and swelling. As the body attempts to defend itself by eliminating the infection, it destroys the infected tissue of the gums, causing gum recession and bone loss.
A Periodontist Is Generally A Referral From A General Dentist
Although a referral from a dentist is not always necessary, many times the dentist or hygienist will make the referral if they notice bacterial infections becoming unmanageable with typical cleanings.
If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, make an appointment to see a periodontist:
- Bleeding while eating or brushing – Bleeding is the most obvious symptom of periodontal disease, especially when bushing and flossing.
- Bad breath – Many times infected gum tissue will cause lingering bad breath.
- Loose teeth and gum recession – If your teeth are appearing longer than previously or are feeling loose, it may be due to loss of jawbone. Contact a periodontist as soon as possible.
- Gangrene in the tissues – Gangrene is generally not able to be self-diagnosed, but if you think you are noticing darkening of the gums make an appointment immediately.
- Related health conditions – Heart disease, diabetes, osteopenia and osteoporosis are closely connected to periodontal disease. Bacteria can quickly enter the blood and cause health issues
A extensive examination will be done by the periodontist. If gingivitis or periodontal disease is officially diagnosed, the periodontist has a number of surgical and non surgical treatments that can slow or halt bone and tooth loss.
- Gingivitis/mild periodontal disease – 4mm in depth pockets in the gums, the periodontist or hygienist may perform scaling and root planing to remove debris from the pockets and allow them to heal.
- Moderate periodontal disease – 4-6mm in length pockets in gums involve a more extensive scaling and root planning cleaning might be required.
- Advanced periodontal disease – 6-7mm gum pockets are usually accompanied by bone loss and gum recession. Scaling and root planning will be performed previous to assessing surgical treatments.
- Tooth loss – Surgical replacements of teeth will involve the ability to anchor the prosthetics in enough bone. If there is not sufficient bone in the jaw, bone grafting may be necessary.
Ask your periodontist if you suspect you may need any of these treatments.