When it comes to oral health, more focus is usually directed to the teeth. However, gums play an equally important role in your dental and oral health. They support and keep your teeth in place. If affected, your teeth and the rest of your mouth could be affected too. Healthy gums are one way to enjoy good oral health. They remain strong and functional. But if not kept healthy, your gums could be infected by bacteria, resulting in gingivitis, then gum disease.
Periodontics is a dental specialty that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infections like these. If your gums, teeth, and bone are affected by the dangerous bacteria, you need quick and effective treatment. A periodontist will ensure that you receive proper treatment and care and restore your oral health. For more information regarding periodontics and help with gum-related infections in Carson, CA, contact Washington Dental.
What is Periodontics?
Your oral health is very important, as it determines your general wellbeing. A problem with your teeth is likely to affect your general health. Dentists play a significant role in ensuring that people are enjoying good oral health. Your dentist will do this by advising you on the good oral habits you should practice regularly, diagnosis, and treatment of any detected oral problem. It is advisable to visit your dentist regularly to have your teeth, gums, and mouth checked for any issues that could escalate into major oral health issues. Failing to do this and maintaining good oral health practices have been linked to some grave oral problems we experience today. Among them is gum disease.
Your gums play a vital role in your mouth. They protect your teeth and bone from infections that could wreak havoc and cause significant damage not just in your mouth but in other parts of your body. Thus, it is crucial to keep your gums healthy to avoid these infections. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice every day to keep your mouth clean and free of dangerous bacteria. Flossing will eliminate the remaining food particles in areas that are hard to reach with a brush. Above all, have your mouth, teeth, and gums checked by a dentist regularly to ensure that everything is alright.
However, these precautions do not always work, and you might find yourself battling gum disease at one point in your life. The correct action to take is to call your dentist right away. Quick and proper treatment for gum disease is necessary if you wish to maintain healthy gums and teeth and enjoy greater general health. This is where periodontists come in.
Periodontics is a branch of dentistry that deals with diagnosing and treating problems that affect your gums and supporting tissues. Periodontists ensure that support structures inside your mouth are strong and healthy because this translates to strong and healthy teeth. Periodontists practice after acquiring additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of gum diseases and related problems.
The bacteria found in the mouth can cause inflammation and diseases in your gums. Infected gums can then cause serious problems throughout your mouth. Inflammation of the gums can affect gum tissues if left untreated and could, after that, affect other structures in your mouth, like the jawbone and teeth. A general dentist can diagnose and treat gingivitis, which is the mildest form of periodontitis. However, your dentist will refer you to a periodontist for proper treatment and management if the disease advances.
Periodontics involves more extensive training and experience than what a general dentist has. Therefore, a periodontist can handle dental complications and offer advanced treatment than a general dentist. For instance, a periodontist can perform surgical and non-surgical procedures to address gum disease in its advanced stage.
Periodontics involves other modes of dental treatment, including surgical placement of dental implants and periodontal plastic surgery.
How To Know When You Need Periodontal Treatment
Healthy teeth and gums are the primary goals of all people. However, you do not always enjoy good oral health. Any form of discomfort in or around your mouth could indicate the onset of an oral problem. Therefore, you need to see your dentist right away. If you suspect that you have gum disease, you might have a valid concern. Gum disease is quite popular, even among people who take the best care of their teeth. Here are some indications that you might have gum disease and could benefit from periodontal treatment:
Healthy gums are firm and not easily irritated by a toothbrush. Thus, if you realize that your gums are bleeding, especially when you brush or floss your teeth, you might have gum disease. Bleeding gums is the most apparent indication of periodontitis. If you haven’t been brushing your teeth or flossing regularly, the bacteria inside your mouth must have combined with food remains in your mouth to infect your gums. The infection makes your gums sensitive, which makes them bleed every time you brush or floss. If left untreated, the dangerous bacteria might find their way to the rest of your body through your bloodstream, causing you serious health issues.
Gum Recession and Deep Gum Pockets
Gum recession occurs when the tissues surrounding your teeth start to pull away due to gum disease. As a result, it makes some of your teeth appear longer than the others. Gum recession is an indication of progressing gum disease. As it progresses, the areas between your teeth and gums start developing deeper pockets, within which bacteria can continue to grow. If no treatment is administered at this point, these gum pockets start developing pus. As a result, your gums could continue receding, causing your teeth to loosen up. A more advanced form of treatment, including surgery, might be needed to restore the worn-out tissues and the health of your gums.
When gum disease starts affecting your teeth, they could become more sensitive. You’ll have a hard time eating or even brushing your teeth without experiencing discomfort. Gum recession is the leading cause of this sensitivity. Receding gums expose more of your tooth and could even expose your teeth’ roots. This exposure makes the affected teeth more sensitive. As the disease advances, more and more teeth become sensitive. Eventually, your teeth become loose and could start falling off. It is advisable to seek a dentist’s advice as soon as you start experiencing sensitivity. Sometimes gum disease could progress slowly without you noticing the signs.
High Blood Sugar
People with high blood sugar or type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to periodontitis, which progresses faster. It becomes worse if diabetes is not under control. High blood sugar is a serious illness that affects your general well-being. It reduces the flow of blood to various parts of your body, including your gums, thereby affecting your oral health as well. Additionally, high blood sugar causes your mouth to dry, a condition that is likely to make gum disease worse. If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood sugar and are experiencing some gum disease symptoms, it is advisable to see a periodontist right away.
For most dental patients, an appointment with a periodontist starts with a visit to the dentist’s office. Whenever you experience a problem within or around your mouth, it is always advisable to see a dentist. A dentist will examine your teeth, gums, and jawbone to determine the issue and then take action. As previously mentioned, your dentist can treat a mild case of gingivitis. But if it has progressed to gum disease, he/she will refer you to a specialist for periodontal treatment.
Common Treatments and Procedures Under Periodontics
Periodontics is an all-encompassing field of dentistry that deals with all the structures found within the mouth. They are the structures that surround your teeth, and they include:
- The gums or gingiva
- The jawbone or alveolar
- The cementum — It connects the teeth to the jawbone by anchoring them to the periodontal ligament
- The periodontal ligament — It is the structure that holds your teeth in place in the jawbone
A periodontist will deal with any disease that affects any of these supporting structures. To do this, he/she uses all sorts of treatments and procedures, all of which fall under periodontics. Some procedures are relatively complex, while others are simple but effective. Here are the most common of these procedures and treatments:
Non-Surgical Periodontal Treatments
Most periodontal treatments do not involve surgical operations. Non-surgical treatments are used on patients who have not lost much structure to gum disease. The modes of treatment under this category are non-invasive and cost-effective. However, this treatment option has its limitations. When a periodontist realizes that non-surgical treatment is not helping you achieve periodontal health, he/she will recommend a surgical procedure to restore your oral health.
Periodontal treatments under this category include:
a) Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling involves careful cleaning of the root surfaces of the affected teeth to remove plaque and tartar. A periodontist will recommend this mode of treatment for advanced gum disease. It helps get rid of the dangerous bacteria from gum pockets that form after gum recession. If the bacteria is left untreated, it continues to advance and could find its way to other parts of the body. Planing involves smoothening out the root of the affected teeth to remove bacterial toxins.
These procedures are then followed by an adjunctive therapy like systemic antibiotics and host modulation. Your periodontist will recommend the proper treatment based on the situation at hand. Most patients who undergo scaling and root planing do not require further active treatment. However, they may require ongoing maintenance treatment to restore their oral health.
b) Tray Delivery Systems
A periodontist uses a custom-fit tray made from your mouth’s impressions in this type of periodontal treatment. You use this tray at home to deliver medications the periodontists will have prescribed for you.
Gum Graft Surgeries
Advanced gum disease leaves your tooth roots exposed after a gum recession. A periodontist could perform a surgical operation known as gum grafting to repair that defect and help prevent further recession and jawbone loss.
Gum grafting is an excellent way to cover exposed teeth’ roots or develop gum tissues in areas where these structures have been affected by extreme gingival recession. During the procedure, your periodontist will take gum tissues from donor sources like your palate to cover the exposed roots. It can be done for one or more teeth to make your gum line even and reduce tooth sensitivity.
Lasers are also used in the treatment of gum disease. However, the use of lasers in dental therapy poses some risks to patients. It is because each laser comes with a different wavelength and power levels. A laser can be used safely during periodontal procedures. But if a patient with damaged gum tissues is exposed to inappropriate wavelengths and power levels, it could cause more damage to the already damaged gum tissues. Thus, only a highly trained and experienced periodontist can offer this mode of treatment.
They include procedures that regenerate lost jawbone and tissues supporting your teeth. These procedures are aimed at reversing some of the damage caused by gum disease. Periodontists recommend regenerative procedures if the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed by gum disease. The procedure will reverse some of that damage by regenerating the lost bone and tissues.
During this procedure, the periodontist will fold the gum tissues to remove the dangerous bacteria. He/she will then use membranes, tissue-stimulating protein, or bone grafts to stimulate your body’s natural ability to regenerate bones and tissues.
By eliminating the existing dangerous bacteria and stimulating bone and tissue regeneration, your periodontist helps reduce your gum pockets’ depth and repair the damage caused by the progressing gum disease.
After the procedure, your dentist will recommend daily oral hygiene and professional dental maintenance to increase your chances of keeping your natural teeth. It also helps keep gum disease at bay.
Lengthening of Dental Crown
Gum disease sometimes causes your teeth to appear shorter than usual. It happens when they are covered with more gum tissue. If you do not feel comfortable with your shorter-looking teeth, you could ask your periodontist to perform a procedure that could increase their length and give you a better smile. A lengthening procedure for your dental crown is an ideal treatment for this.
During this treatment, your periodontist will shape the excess gum and bone tissue to expose more of your natural teeth. He/she will also even out your gum line and anything else that will give you back your natural smile.
An artificial tooth root could be placed on your jawbone to hold a tooth replacement or bridge. In addition, your periodontists could suggest a dental implant if you have lost one or more teeth to gum disease or even an injury.
A lost tooth comes with insecurities and could make it impossible for you to smile as you did before losing a tooth. Replacing the missing tooth is one way to restore your look and feel and to boost your confidence. It also restores the functionality of your teeth.
There are mainly two types of dental implants that your periodontist could recommend, based on your jawbone’s density:
- Endosteal or in the bone implant — It is the most common type of dental implant. It comes in various blades, cylinders, and screws, which are surgically placed into your jawbone. Each of these implants holds one or more artificial teeth. Endosteal dental implants are generally used as an alternative for dental patients with removable dentures or dental bridges.
- Subperiosteal or on the dental bone implant — It is the type of dental implant placed on top of your jawbone with metal framework posts protruding through your gum to hold the artificial tooth. This type of dental implant is designed for patients who cannot wear conventional dentures or have a low bone weight.
You must be in good oral and general health before receiving a dental implant. Thus, if you have gum disease, your periodontist will first treat it, then proceed with the dental implantation procedure. You need enough bone in your jaw to support the implant. You must have healthy gum tissues that are free of gum disease.
Dental implants are closely connected to your gum tissues and underlying jawbone. Thus, the procedure can only be performed by a periodontist, the specialist in those areas of the mouth.
A Procedure to Reduce Gum Pockets
Naturally, your gum tissues and bone should snugly fit around your teeth. When you have periodontitis, these tissues and bones are destroyed, resulting in pockets forming around your teeth. As the disease advances, the pockets become more profound. Deeper gum pockets provide sufficient spaces for the dangerous bacteria to live and thrive. Eventually, the bacteria advances under your gum tissues, causing further damage to the tissues and bone. Further loss of bone and tissue around your teeth causes your teeth to loosen up. In the end, you start losing your natural teeth.
The procedure starts with your periodontists measuring the depth of your gum pockets. If the pockets are deeper than usual, he/she will recommend gum pocket reduction treatment.
When your gum pockets are deeper than expected, it becomes hard to keep them clean using the daily oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing. Professional care routines might also not help keep those areas clean and free of bacteria.
In this procedure, your periodontist will fold the gum tissue and remove the dangerous bacteria from the gum pockets. He/she will then secure the gum tissue back in place. If need be, your periodontist will smoothen out the irregular surfaces of your damaged bone. It limits areas where the dangerous bacteria can hide and grow again. It also ensures that the gum tissue re-attaches better and firmly to a healthy bone.
Gum pocket reduction and elimination of the existing dangerous bacteria are necessary procedures because they reduce the progression of gum disease. It is vital in the maintenance of a healthy smile. However, eliminating bacteria alone might not guarantee that the bacteria will not reoccur. Deep gum pockets are hard to clean at home. They also form areas in which food particles can be lost. Reducing them is recommended if you want to treat gum disease once and for all.
Periodontics also involves plastic surgery. For example, if you would like to improve your smile, a periodontist might help. Here are some of the problems your periodontists might correct using plastic surgery:
a) Gummy Smile
A gummy smile occurs when more of your natural teeth are covered by gum tissues, thereby making your teeth appear shorter than usual. Your periodontist might recommend a procedure to lengthen your dental crown on the affected teeth for this problem. During the procedure, your periodontist will remove the excess gum tissue to expose more of your natural teeth and make all your teeth even. He/she will then sculpt your gum line to give you the perfect look and smile.
b) Long Teeth
As previously mentioned, your teeth could appear more extended than usual after gum recession due to gum disease. Sometimes the disease leaves some of your teeth’ roots exposed.
Your periodontist could perform a gum grafting procedure to cover the exposed areas of your teeth and reduce gum recession.
c) Indentations in Your Gums and Bone
Loss of teeth can cause indentations in your gums and bone where a natural tooth used to be. This is because the jawbone tends to recede when it is no longer holding a tooth. Indentation doesn’t look natural and could make an artificial tooth look longer than usual. Your periodontist will perform ridge augmentation to take care of it.
Find The Right Periodontal Treatments and Procedures Near Me
If you have a problem with your gum, gum tissues, or jawbone, it is best to see a periodontics specialist right away. A dentist will refer you to a periodontist, or you can see one directly if you suspect you have gum disease. Periodontics involves a more advanced form of treatment designed to help strengthen your teeth’ support structures. For more information about periodontics and help with your oral health in Carson, CA, contact Washington Dental at 310-217-1507. Our highly trained and experienced periodontists will be glad to help restore your oral health and give you a reason to smile once more.