When to See a Periodontist

 
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Periodontal disease begins when the bacteria found in plaque infect the soft or gingival tissue surrounding the teeth. They embed in the gum and rapidly breed. As the infection progresses, it starts to burrow deeper into the tissue causing inflammation or irritation between the teeth and gums. The response of the body is to destroy the infected tissue, which is why the gums appear to recede. The resulting pockets between the teeth deepen and if no treatment is sought, the tissue which makes up the jawbone also recedes causing unstable teeth and tooth loss.

Periodontists prevent, diagnose, and treat infections and diseases affecting the soft tissues and jawbone surrounding the teeth. They have to train an additional three years beyond dental school and are familiar with the most advanced techniques necessary to treat gum disease. If you have advanced gum disease, you may need a periodontist's help.

Referrals from General Dentists and Self Referral

There are several ways treatment from a periodontist may be sought. In the course of a regular dental check-up, a general dentist or hygienist may find symptoms of gingivitis or rapidly progressing periodontal disease. They could then recommend a consultation with a periodontist. However, a referral is not necessary for a periodontal consultation.

If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, it is important that you schedule an appointment with a periodontist without delay:

  • Bleeding while eating or brushing – Unexplained bleeding while consuming food or during the course of daily cleaning is one of the most common signs of periodontal infection.

  • Bad breath – Continued halitosis (bad breath) which persists even when a rigorous oral hygiene program is in place, can be indicative of periodontitis, gingivitis or the beginnings of an infection in the gum tissues.

  • Loose teeth and gum recession – Longer looking teeth can signal recession of the gums and bone loss due to periodontal disease.  As this disease progresses and attacks the jawbone, (the anchor holding the teeth in place) the teeth may become loose or be lost altogether.

  • Gangrene in the tissues – Gangrene is hard to self-diagnose but the general dentist and periodontist will check for its presence in the soft tissues, alveolar bone, and periodontal ligament.

  • Related health conditions – Heart disease, diabetes, osteopenia, and osteoporosis are highly correlated with periodontitis and periodontal infections.  The bacterial infection can spread through the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Before initiating any dental treatment, the periodontist must extensively examine the gums, jawbone and general condition of the teeth.  When gingivitis or periodontal disease is officially diagnosed, the periodontist has a number of surgical and nonsurgical options available to treat the underlying infection, halt the recession of the soft tissue, and restructure or replace teeth which may be missing.

  • Gingivitis/mild periodontal disease – When the gum pockets exceed 4mm in depth, the periodontist or hygienist may perform scaling and root planing to remove debris from the pockets and allow them to heal.  Education and advice will be provided on an effective cleaning regime thereafter.

  • Moderate periodontal disease – If the gum pockets reach 4-6mm in length a more extensive scaling and root planning cleaning might be required.  This cleaning is usually performed under local anesthetic.

  • Advanced periodontal disease – Gum pockets in excess of 6-7mm are usually accompanied by bone loss and gum recession.  Scaling and root planning will always be performed as the initial nonsurgical treatment.  In addition to those nonsurgical treatments, the periodontist may recommend surgical treatment to reduce pocket depth.

  • Tooth loss – Where one or several teeth are missing due to periodontal disease, dental implants are an effective option.  If the bone is strong enough to provide a suitable anchor for the prosthetic tooth, the implant can be placed.  However, if the bone is severely eroded, bone grafts may be performed by the periodontist to provide a suitable anchor for the new tooth/teeth.

Dental Professionals of Jersey City provide gum disease treatments, giving you the support of a periodontist in most cases. If you live in Jersey City and need help with your periodontal health, call us now.

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