1. What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a general dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists spend three additional years of education beyond dental school. Periodontists are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. Often, dentists refer their patients to a periodontist when their periodontal disease is advanced, supporting tissue is compromised or cosmetic procedures are required to help you achieve the smile you desire. However, you don't need a referral to see a periodontist. In fact, there are occasions when you may choose to go directly to a periodontist or to refer a family member or friend to your own periodontist.
2. What is periodontal disease?
The word periodontal literally means "around the tooth." Periodontal diseases are serious bacterial infections that destroy the attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth. Left untreated, these diseases can lead to tooth loss.
3. Periodontal Disease: What you should know
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is one of the most common infections today. More than 75% of North Americans over 35 years of age have some form of periodontal disease. Although many are infected, few know they actually have the disease. In a recent study, 8 out of 10 people surveyed believed they did not have periodontal disease, 7 out of 10 exhibited one or more symptoms.
Periodontal diseases are painless until they reach an advanced stage. If left untreated, periodontal diseases can result in bad breath, red, swollen and bleeding gums and, ultimately, tooth loss. In fact, periodontal diseases are the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Despite all these facts, periodontal diseases are some of the most preventable diseases.
4. What can cause gum disease?
Gum disease has many contributing factors. The major contributors to gum disease are hereditary factors, smoking, auto-immune diseases such as diabetes and oral bacteria.
Bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. In order to keep your teeth and gums healthy, daily cleaning is required in the form of brushing and flossing.
If the plaque is not removed, it hardens into a rough, porous deposit called calculus, or tartar. Toxins (or poisons) produced by the bacteria in the plaque irritate the gums. The toxins destroy supporting tissues and bone around the teeth. Gums then pull away from the teeth, forming pockets which then fill up with more plaque.
As gum disease progresses, the pockets continue to become deeper and deeper. Consequently, plaque continues to move further down the roots of the teeth dissolving the bone which support them. Unless treated, the affected teeth can become loose and eventually may be lost.
5. When should I see a periodontist?
If you value your oral as well as overall health, anytime is a good time to see a periodontist for an evaluation. Sometimes the only way to detect periodontal disease is through a periodontal evaluation. A periodontal evaluation may be especially important in the following situations:
- If you notice any symptoms of periodontal disease, including:
- gums that bleed easily, such as during brushing or flossing
- red, swollen or tender gums
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- persistent bad breath
- pus between the teeth and gums
- loose or separating teeth
- a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- a sore or irritation in your mouth that does not get better within two weeks
- If you are thinking of becoming pregnant. Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby born too early and too small. In addition, about half of women experience "pregnancy gingivitis." However, women who have good oral hygiene and have no gingivitis before pregnancy are very unlikely to experience this condition.
- If you have a family member with periodontal disease. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
- If you have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis. Ongoing research is showing that periodontal disease may be linked to these conditions. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can travel into the blood
stream and pose a threat to other parts of the body. Healthy gums may lead to
a healthier body.
- If you feel that your teeth are too short or that your smile is too "gummy." Or, if you are missing one or more of your teeth and are interested in a long-lasting replacement option.
- If you are not satisfied with your current tooth replacement option, such as a bridge or dentures, and may be interested in dental implants.
6. Will my Insurance cover this?
Our office will be happy to pre-determine services to your insurance company. The amount of coverage that you are eligible for will depend on the contract your employer has negotiated with the insurance company.
Payment is due at the time treatment is rendered and we are paid directly from our patients. Our office is equipped to send electronic claim forms to the majority of insurance companies which will expedite your financial reimbursement. We shall report only what is performed and when it was done in a true and accurate report.
We create treatment plans on an individual basis. We base all options on the best available technology and outcomes; insurance benefits are not a factor in treatment planning as insurance companies do not always have the patient's best interest as a priority.