The Specialty of Periodontics
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists receive three additional years of education beyond dental school. They use the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, performing cosmetic periodontal procedures, bone grafting, as well as placing and maintaining dental implants.
About Periodontal Disease
Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums, which gradually lead to the destruction of the support of your natural teeth. These diseases affect more than 80% of Americans by the age of 45.
Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. Bacteria found in plaque produce enzymes and toxins which injure the gums. Injured gums turn red, swell and bleed easily. Other common factors in gum disease is genetics, uncontrolled diabetes, and smoking.
If this injury is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate.
If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. Pain is usually not present until damage from this disease is very advanced.
Periodontal Tissue Regeneration
Tooth loss occurs for many reasons; dental decay, root canal problems, fractures, periodontal disease and trauma. Sometimes teeth never develop. As a result of tooth loss, the bone melts away. If there is inadequate bone to support the surrounding teeth and future possible dental implant(s), bone grafting materials are used to rebuild and regenerate the bone. This allows for sufficient bone in quantity and quality for implant placements and supporting tooth structures. There are multiple type of bone grafting materials available, and your periodontist will discuss your options at your consultation visit.
Crown lengthening is a surgical procedure that re-contours the gum tissue and often the underlying bone of a tooth. Crown lengthening is often needed for a tooth to be fitted with a crown. It provides necessary space between the supporting bone and crown, which prevents the new crown from damaging bone and gum tissue.
Periodontal Tissue Repair (Osseous surgery)
When deep pockets between teeth and gums (5 millimeters or deeper) are present, it is difficult for you or your hygienist to thoroughly remove the plaque and tartar. Periodontal Tissue Repair is a procedure where the gum is gently lifted away from the tooth to allow the rough surfaces on the tooth to be smoothed. The diseased tissue is removed, and sometimes bone is reshaped. The area is medicated and the gum is repositioned and sutured, allowing the bone and gum tissue to heal.
One of the goals of Periodontal Tissue Repair is to reduce the depth of the periodontal pockets to make them easier for you to keep clean, which will ultimately save your teeth!
A frenum is a muscle that connects the lips to the jaw. If a patient has an excess amount of tissue there, a frenectomy procedure is performed to remove the excess tissue. This is sometime needed in order to close gaps between teeth, during orthodontic therapy.
A gum lift may be performed to create a more even gum line. Patients with a gummy smile can quickly and safely have the supporting structures around the teeth recontoured, thus exposing more tooth, creating a more attractive smile.