Periodontics is a practice area in the field of dentistry that specializes in gums and other tooth-supporting tissues, also known as the periodontium. While most general dentists are trained to diagnose and treat mild periodontal disease (gum disease), complex or severe cases are referred to a periodontic specialist who has additional training and expertise in in periodontics procedures.
What’s a periodontist?
Periodontists are dental specialists that focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and dental implants. The additional three years of education and training beyond a basic dentistry degree that periodontists receive equips them to diagnose underlying conditions and offer a range of effective treatments. Learn more about Dr. Kennie Kwok of San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry.
What does a periodontist do for gum disease?
For minor to moderate gum disease, treatment starts with less-invasive, non-surgical procedures such as scaling and root planing, in which specialized hand tools are used to deep-clean the surfaces of the teeth below the gum line.
If periodontal disease has progressed such that gum tissue no longer fits snug against the teeth, minor gum surgery might be required to address the loose “pockets.” During a pocket reduction procedure, the periodontist will open a small flap in the gums to remove infected tissue so healthier gum tissue can naturally reattach to the teeth. An alternative less invasive option may be to use an Nd:YAG laser to “tighten up” the loose pockets.
Advanced gum disease can erode bone in the jaw and severely damage supporting tissues, and if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. Periodontists can help arrest or even reverse the damage in some cases by performing regenerative procedures including bone grafts, gum grafts, and treatments that stimulate tissue growth.
Other Periodontics Procedures
While periodontists specialize in gum disease treatment, they offer a range of treatment options for other periodontium problems as well. Other periodontics procedures include:
Gum graft surgery
Treats receding gums by covering exposed roots, which reduces sensitivity, protects against tooth decay, and can help prevent further recession
Crown lengthening surgery
Reshapes excess gum and possibly bone tissue to change the appearance of a “gummy” smile or to create a healthy space amongst the teeth, gums, and bone.
Dental implant surgery
Replaces missing, decayed, or damaged teeth with a strong, natural-looking prosthetic tooth that is anchored into the jawbone.
Why Would You Need to See a Periodontist?
Daily brushing and flossing, along with regular visits to a general dentist for a thorough cleaning and exam are the keys to maintaining good oral health, but it only takes a small amount of overlooked plaque and tartar to lead to gum disease. Patients with severe or complex gum disease will be referred to a periodontist to treat gum disease and prevent it from recurring, although there are also cosmetic reasons to see a periodontist. Periodontal plastic surgery can treat a variety of issues affecting the appearance of your smile, including excess gums, receding gums, and missing teeth.
The field of periodontics involves an array of dental issues and treatment options, but all periodontists share a set of common goals: to restore diseased gum tissue to good health, to improve the appearance and function of your smile, and to help you maintain good oral health so you keep your natural teeth for as long as possible.
Learn more about prioritizing dental health and how ignoring it will cost you more long-term.
Periodontics treatment in San Diego
If your dentist has referred you to a periodontics specialist or you’re interested in dental cosmetic surgery, San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry is here to help. We specialize in personalized patient care, including a comprehensive approach to education and communication to ensure our patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. To schedule a consultation, fill out our contact form or call us at (619) 304-9184.