You might know that a periodontist is a specialist who performs procedures specific to gum disease and dental implants. But periodontal treatment has a broader scope. How do you know when it is time to see a periodontist?
When Do You Need to See a Periodontist?
Gum disease and dental implant treatment are the most common reasons to see a periodontist. But you can benefit from a periodontist’s skill in other areas:
- Tooth extraction, which many periodontists refer to as tooth removal
- Bone grafting to repair bone loss after tooth removal
- Soft tissue grafting and tissue sculpting
Why See a Periodontist Instead of Your General Dentist?
Although a general dentist can perform the same procedures, a periodontist has the specialized training, advanced skills, and extensive experience. Keep reading for details on when to see a periodontist, how a periodontist can help, and how prompt care can minimize damage to your teeth and gums.
Sign 1: You Need Tooth Removal
Although most dentists use the term tooth extraction, the procedure can damage bone, cause pain, and require additional surgical procedures to regenerate the bone. When a dentist extracts a tooth the conventional way, it can lead to several issues:
- Trauma to surrounding bone and tissue
- Compromising your ability to receive a dental implant in the future
- The need for additional surgical procedures to repair the damaged area
If you seek tooth removal from a periodontist, your jawbone and tissue will experience less trauma and be a stable foundation for dental implants. And a periodontist’s careful techniques decrease the likelihood of needing a bone graft. Many patients can have their dental implants placed the same day as their tooth removal, reducing the need for further surgical treatment.
Early Warning Signs
A periodontal (gum) abscess is a collection of pus that forms a bump on your gums. An abscess is a warning sign that you have a progressive infection that can lead to tooth removal.
How Will an Untreated Abscess Affect You?
- It causes your gums to pull away from your tooth and leaves room for bacteria to grow.
- The infection will spread to your bone tissue and loosen your tooth.
- Your tooth might require removal.
If you think you have an abscess, schedule an appointment with a periodontist right away.
Sign 2: Repairing Bone Loss
When left untreated, a tooth or root infection can damage your jawbone. Over time, the bone continues to degenerate, become thinner, and alter the contours of your face. Even patients who do not plan to get dental implants may require a bone graft to avoid further bone loss. Without enough jawbone to support your facial muscles, your face will prematurely look older and have a sunken-in appearance. The longer you wait, the more bone loss will occur.
A periodontist will either perform periodontal procedures to repair and replace bone loss around your natural teeth or remove a tooth that cannot be saved. Prompt treatment prevents additional bone and tooth loss. By choosing a periodontist, if you decide to receive dental implants in the future, your existing bone will likely support the implants.
Early Warning Signs
You can have a disease in your gums or jawbone without feeling pain.
Consider The Facts:
- The American Academy of Periodontology cautions that an attractive smile is not always a healthy smile.
- A recent study shows that gum disease affects almost one-half of American adults above the age of 29—and many are unaware they have it.
- One warning sign of bone loss is a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
If you notice a change in your bite, schedule an appointment with a periodontist for an exam.
Sign 3: Any Procedure Involving Tissue Sculpting or Grafting
Your gums protect your teeth from sensitivity, root decay, and bone loss. If the gum tissue erodes, which is known as gum recession, your risk of losing the tooth will increase without treatment.
Your periodontist will reposition gum tissue over the exposed tooth root by performing tissue sculpting or a gum graft.
Benefits of Tissue Sculpting or a Gum Graft:
- Prevent additional gum or tissue loss
- Protection from root decay or possible bone and tooth loss
While gum recession is a serious problem, not all cases require surgical intervention. Gently brushing your teeth and periodic exams by your periodontist are often enough to maintain healthy gums.
Early Warning Symptoms
Tooth sensitivity is a warning that your gums are receding. If you feel sensitivity in your teeth, particularly near the gumline, exposed tooth roots might be the problem. Schedule an appointment with a periodontist to identify the cause of sensitivity in your teeth.
Tissue Sculpting to Improve Your Smile
Cosmetic tissue sculpting removes excess gum tissue and reshapes it around your teeth. If you have a gummy smile or your teeth look too short or small, a periodontist can use sculpting to prevent your gums from dominating your smile.
What Is Involved?
It takes an average of 30 minutes to an hour to complete the procedure. During treatment, your periodontist will complete these steps:
- Clean your teeth and gums before your surgery date
- Numb your gum tissue with a local anesthetic
- Loosen the gum tissue around each affected tooth
- Remove excess gum and bone tissue to expose some of the crown on each tooth
- Reshape the remaining tissue around each tooth
- Sterilize and suture or apply dental bandages to the affected areas
After your gums heal, you will notice the improved proportion between your teeth and gums and how it enhances your smile.
Do You Think You Need to See a Periodontist?
If you are experiencing signs or symptoms that suggest you need to see a periodontist, do not delay. Early diagnosis can prevent the issue from getting worse and becoming more complex and costly to treat.
In Beverly Hills, periodontist David Anson, DDS, has published articles and lectured internationally on periodontal techniques. After a comprehensive exam of your teeth and gums, Dr. Anson will give you an accurate diagnosis and explain your treatment options.
Call us or complete our appointment request form to schedule a consultation or an exam.