What is a Periodontist?
Whenever you experience any problems with your gums, like bleeding or sensitivity, consider seeing a periodontist. A periodontist is a dental professional who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that affect the tooth-supporting tissues. These tissues make up the periodontium and include the gums and the jawbone.
Periodontists are also experts in the placement of dental implants and the treatment of oral inflammation. To become a periodontist, one needs to undergo regular dental school training and then receive three years of specialized training focusing on gum and tooth health.
Moreover, periodontists are trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures. They offer a variety of treatments, including scaling and planing, root surface debridement, dental implants placement, and maintenance, as well as periodontal surgery. They are also well-versed with the latest technologies for diagnosing and treating periodontal diseases.
What to Expect at Periodontist Appointment
During a regular appointment, your periodontist will typically review your medical and dental histories to find out if you have any issues that may affect your periodontal treatment. These histories include whether:
- You’re taking certain medication
- You have a medical condition like heart disease or diabetes
- You’re pregnant
After reviewing your medical history, the periodontist may examine your gums for any signs of gum line recession, assess your bite, and look out for any loose teeth.
Using a small measuring instrument known as a probe, your periodontist will measure the spaces between your teeth and gums. These spaces are called periodontal pockets. This procedure helps in determining the health of your gums.
Your periodontist may also take X-rays to assess the health of the bone beneath your gum line. After the comprehensive evaluation of your periodontal health, the periodontist will advise you on the best treatment plan.
Signs You Need to See a Periodontist
A comprehensive dental exam is the best way to know you have a periodontal issue that needs to be treated. However, there some signs and symptoms you can look out for to help you determine if you need to see a periodontist for further examination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that at least 50 percent of people older than 30 have some form of gum disease. If you are older than 30 and haven’t yet to see a periodontist, you should get examined as soon as possible. Here are other signs that you need to see a periodontist:
- Red, puffy, or bleeding gums – If you notice bleeding in particular, especially when brushing or flossing, it could be a sign that your gums have been invaded by harmful bacteria.
- Chronic bad breath – A sour taste in your mouth sometimes accompanies this. When bacteria builds up in your mouth, they produce toxins that cause bad breath. This breath never seems to go away even after a thorough
- Receding gums – If you notice that your teeth have become longer than they usually are, it could be a sign of gum recession. Presence of deep pockets between your teeth and gums is another sign.
- Loose teeth – If your teeth feel loose or are shifting out of their original positions, you should see a periodontist as soon as possible.
- Changing bite pattern – When your teeth become loose, they may lead to changes in how you bite or chew.
- Pain when eating – When bacteria attack your mouth, it can result in infection around the tooth roots. This infection will cause pain in and around the affected tooth whenever you bite down.
- Tooth sensitivity – Gum recession can result in the exposure of your teeth roots. This can make your teeth increasingly sensitive to heat and cold.
- A family history of periodontal disease – According to various studies, genetic factors could contribute to gum disease. If your grandparent, mother, father, or sibling is struggling with gum disease, you are at higher risk of the disease as well. It’s advisable that you see a periodontist for an examination.
- Smoking – Smoking interferes with proper blood circulation. If you smoke, therefore, your gums may not be getting sufficient oxygen and nutrients to remain healthy. This raises your risk of gum disease as the gums can’t fight infections effectively. If you smoke or used to smoke, you should visit a periodontist for a checkup.
- Diabetes – If you have diabetes, the high sugar levels in your saliva can lead to the growth of bacteria that cause gum disease. Diabetes can also undermine proper circulation and starves your gums of nutrients and oxygen necessary to stay healthy.