Gum-related problems affect millions of Americans. Fortunately, dentistry has found different techniques to address these problems, the primary one being periodontal disease, through the field of dentistry known as periodontics. At The Whittier Dentist, we have experts who treat patients struggling with gum problems and provide various treatment solutions to alleviate the symptoms and heal the gums. If you are concerned that you have unhealthy gums and seek periodontics services in Whittier, CA, contact us to set up an appointment with one of our expert dental professionals for help.
Periodontics is also referred to as periodontology. It is a field of dentistry focused on the gums or periodontium and the various diseases that affect them. Periodontics deals with diagnosing, treating, and preventing gum/periodontal disease that impacts the jawbone and gums. The gum tissue surrounds and anchors the teeth while the underlying jawbone supports the teeth firmly in place.
Periodontists are specialists who have undergone further dental training. They are generally concerned with maintaining tissue and jawbone aesthetics, health, and function. Their specific job is to diagnose, treat, and prevent gum/periodontal disease in a patient.
Periodontists are usually confused with endodontists and general dentists. General dentists are expected to attain certain knowledge and skills similar to periodontists. This is particularly because bones, gums, and teeth are interdependent and interrelated. But when the dental problem has advanced and has become more complicated, a general dentist will often refer the patient to a periodontist.
Conversely, endodontists work with the teeth's pulp chambers and roots. Among their most sought services is root canal therapy, conducted when the pulp, where tooth nerves are found, becomes inflamed. To prevent causing more damage to oral health, the endodontist removes the pulp from its chamber and then disinfects and fills the chamber. The tooth then continues surviving without nerves.
To be a periodontist, you must undergo a graduate course for four years and then acquire a dental surgery or medical dentistry degree. You also must do a residency program that can last five or more years. You will only be board-certified to practice periodontics after completing the residency program. Periodontists must undergo continuing education because the certification requires renewal every six years.
Even though many periodontists work in the private sector, some also practice in other health care settings like hospitals and community clinics. They may also practice in non-profit organizations and schools.
A periodontist works closely with general dentists, radiology technicians, and other professionals like endodontists to assist patients in achieving optimal oral health and an attractive smile.
Why Periodontal Treatment?
Gum disease is a progressive oral condition that starts with mild inflammation of the gum, a condition known as gingivitis. It has proven to be the leading reason for tooth loss and must be treated very seriously. In some instances, the disease has no symptoms. But where the signs and symptoms are evident, they may include:
- Dry mouth
- Tender or bleeding gums.
- Red, swollen, or painful gums.
- Cold sores, canker sores, candidiasis, and leukoplakia.
- Increased sensitivity to cold and hot beverages.
- Clicking sounds or jaw pain while moving the jaw.
- Discolored or stained teeth.
- Persistent foul breath.
- Formation of an abscess around tooth roots.
- Pus oozing out from tooth roots and gums.
- Change in one's bite.
- Loosened teeth that can fall off any time.
Periodontal disease occurs because of poor oral/dental hygiene. Poor dental/oral hygiene and health maintenance result in the accumulation of tartar and plaque on the teeth surface and beneath the gum line. Plaque harbors bacteria that infect the oral cavity and cause oral/dental health problems such as bad breath, caries, cavities, and the inception of periodontal disease. Gum disease generally starts developing when the plaque-based bacteria cause an infection in the adjacent teeth tissues, making them painful and irritated. If not checked, the infection spreads beneath the gum line and affects the underlying tooth roots and gum tissue. Consequently, the jawbone starts to recede, and teeth loosen and finally fall off.
There are many reasons why you may need to undergo periodontal treatment. They include:
- Before the crown lengthening procedure— the periodontist might lengthen the tooth crown by removing adjacent soft tissues to allow for more tooth exposure
- Advanced/moderate periodontal disease— progressive/mild gum disease happens when your gums are red, bleeding, or swollen around most teeth, and your jawbone has started receding.
- A localized recession of gums— the infection propagating advanced or moderate periodontal disease often starts in one region. Gum recession could also be a result of using a hard-bristled toothbrush or because of an improperly-positioned tooth. Immediate treatment is necessary to stop further spreading.
- Ridge augmentation— The ridge augmentation procedure, often referred to as recontouring, could be necessary to correct an uneven gum line. Before starting the treatment procedure, a periodontist must treat any periodontitis and bacterial infection.
In the cases of moderate/mild periodontal issues, the periodontist will focus on treating the underlying bacterial infection and then advise on the proper home cleaning techniques. Deep scaling is sometimes necessary to eliminate plaque and tartar harboring the infection-causing bacteria from the tissues and teeth surface. Where gum disease is in the advanced stage and significant jawbone recession has occurred, the periodontist may recommend more intensive cleaning and will extract any teeth that have loosened beyond saving.
Periodontists are trained in every aspect of the dental implant procedure, restoring mouth functionality when periodontal disease has affected the teeth. Since periodontitis is progressive, you want to have the calculus buildup and bacteria removed to prevent the infection from spreading. Your periodontist will advise you on effective treatment options and cleaning techniques.
When to Seek Periodontal Treatment
You have to seek periodontal treatment if:
- You are a transplant recipient— organ transplant procedures have saved many lives. However, they could also be highly risky even after the patient has already received the donated organ. The body can attack and destroy the newly-transplanted organ anytime. To reduce the risk, health care providers administer immunosuppressant medications to patients. However, dental problems may arise due to the body's suppressed immunity. Usually, dental professionals refer organ transplant patients to periodontists after and before the transplant process to make sure the mouth is healthy.
- You have been diagnosed with periodontal disease—as mentioned, gum disease is the gums or gingiva inflammation. It occurs when the gums are irritated due to the consistent accumulation of plaque and tartar on the tooth surface. Whenever this happens, gums will be infected and inflamed. If not treated fast enough, gum-related problems can impact the bones, loosening the teeth. Even though several factors can trigger or cause gum disease, it often develops when you have poor oral hygiene, like not seeking dental care at least twice a year and failure to floss every day.
- Your dentist refers you to a periodontist— often, patients seek periodontal treatment because their general dentists have referred them to the treatment. This could be because their problem, like periodontitis, has become too technical or severe.
- You need deep cleaning— gum disease usually develops because of the steady accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth surface. Plaque is formed when deposits become calcified. It may damage teeth, making bacteria penetrate and eventually cause tooth decay. During a deep cleaning, your periodontist will conduct the scaling and root planing procedure. Scaling removes the deposits from your teeth. And during root planing, the periodontist cleans the periodontal pockets to prevent bacteria development. Periodontal pockets can be an indication of worsening periodontal disease.
- You want to undergo the dental implant procedure— dental implants are one of the ideal ways to support the root structure. You can suffer bone loss when your jawbone does not have anything to support, like when your tooth has already been extracted. To avoid this, a dental implant, generally titanium-made, is affixed and given time to merge with the jawbone.
- You need a second opinion— most general dentists have been trained to diagnose periodontal disease, which also falls within the scope of periodontists. But if you disagree with your general dentist's diagnosis and treatment program or if you require more information, you may directly reach out to a periodontist.
Periodontics Services to Treat Periodontal Disease
Periodontics has established various ways to treat gum disease. These include:
- Surgical procedures
- Non-Surgical Procedures
Non-surgical procedures include dental treatment methods such as:
Chao Pinhole Gum Treatment
Periodontics provides many treatment options for receding gums. However, the Chao pinhole gum treatment procedure is deemed the most ideal. Unlike the traditional treatment methods, the Chao pinhole gum treatment method is minimally invasive and does not involve using sutures or scalpels. It involves using advanced technology to do tissue repositioning and can be used to treat mild or moderate gum recession forms. The treatment is conducted in these steps:
- The dental professional numbs the treatment site with a local anesthetic
- They create small pinholes in your gums
- They use special dental equipment to penetrate your gum tissue via the pinholes.
- They remove the dental equipment in an up-down movement to loosen your gum tissue.
- They then guide the gum tissue and reposition it over the sites where gum recession has occurred.
- They pass thin collagen strips near the newly positioned gum via the pinholes. These collagen strips promote gum rejuvenation and healing.
- The treated site is allowed time to heal
Professional Teeth Cleaning
As mentioned above, plaque accumulation is the primary cause of periodontal disease. When plaque builds up on the teeth surface, it indicates the genesis of gingivitis or gum disease. However, gingivitis could easily be reversed with the removal of plaque. Dental professionals recommend regular flossing and brushing for healthy gums and teeth. Although, flossing and brushing fail to eliminate hardened plaque deposits (tartar), and this is where professional teeth cleaning comes in. Professional teeth cleaning involves the removal of tartar or plaque deposits from teeth surfaces. In addition to helping reverse gingivitis, it also helps prevent cavities, bad breath, and caries.
Dentists recommend that you undergo a professional dental cleaning procedure every six months. A dental hygienist conducts the procedure, and they provide these services:
- Removing tartar and plaque from the teeth’s surface
- Gritty toothpaste cleaning to eliminate any tartar or plaque traces
- Fluoride treatment for strengthening the tooth enamel
- Expert flossing to remove tartar or plaque from interdental regions.
- Dental sealants for closing the vulnerable teeth areas to safeguard them from plaque build-up and decay.
Scaling and Root Planing
Unlike professional teeth cleaning, scaling and root planing eliminate plaque below and above the gumline. The dental hygienist also smoothens the teeth roots to assist the gums in reattaching to the teeth. Before undergoing the scaling and root planing procedure, the dental hygienist must administer a local anesthetic.
Surgical procedures for treating periodontitis include:
The recession of gums occurs when gum tissue wears away because of plaque buildup and, eventually, a bacterial infection. Gum recession leaves the tooth root exposed, making them more susceptible to decay, sensitivity, and periodontal disease. If not treated, gum recession may eventually result in tooth loss. The gum grafting procedure prevents further gum recession and potential bone loss. The periodontist conducts the gum grafting procedure to assist in developing new gum tissues or covering the exposed tooth roots.
During this procedure, the periodontist extracts gum tissue from a healthy donor site, often the palate, and then transplants it to the area where the recession has occurred. If the tissue is not enough, a donor could be sought to provide more. Gum grafting helps rebuild the gums. It is appropriate for one or more teeth. Among the advantages of gum grafting, per what patients say, is it reduces tooth sensitivity.
Dental professionals carry out the bone grafting procedure to transplant healthy bone tissue from one body area to the area where the bone recession has occurred. It enhances the density of the bone that you could have lost to gum disease.
Pocket Reduction Surgery
Gum disease or periodontal disease causes gaps or pockets between gums and teeth. These pockets harbor plaque and turn into a breeding site for bacteria. With time, the pockets deepen, and the teeth begin to fall off. Dental professionals conduct pocket reduction surgery to decrease pocket depth, thereby saving teeth. The surgery includes these steps:
- Opening the gums through flap surgery
- Smoothening and shaping bones to give a proper attachment between teeth and gums
- Assisting tissues in healing by utilizing periodontal lasers for sealing the treated site
- Stitching in place gum flaps
Laser surgery is another technique periodontists use to treat periodontal disease. This surgical procedure will achieve the same outcome realized after undergoing the scaling and root planing procedures.
However, most patients have various concerns about how safe this procedure is. With a skilled periodontist, laser surgery is harmless. However, there are slight risks. Lasers contain different wavelengths and power levels, which, when skillfully used, will cure periodontitis effectively. Conversely, laser surgery can damage gum or periodontal tissues if not properly conducted. When the incorrect power level or wavelength is used, periodontal tissues will be damaged.
If you wish to undergo this procedure to treat periodontitis, the first thing to do would be to consult your periodontist. Allow them to explain the risk factors, advantages, and disadvantages before deciding. Additionally, different conditions require different treatment procedures. When the periodontist runs tests, they will suggest the ideal method that suits your needs.
Dental implant placement is another procedure periodontists conduct to cure gum disease. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that anchor a replacement tooth or bridge to the jawbone. If you have lost your teeth due to gum disease, you can have them replaced by dental implants. Consulting a periodontist will help you know whether dental implants are the ideal option for you and the appropriate type of implants to use. The available types of dental implants include:
- Endosteal— endosteal is a common dental implant that a dental professional fits in your jawbone as an artificial tooth root to hold a replacement tooth in place. Endosteal implants are titanium-made and are usually shaped like small screws. They protrude through your gum to support the replacement tooth. Endosteal implants are mostly preferred over bridges and removable dentures.
- Subperiosteal— these implants are fitted on or above the jawbone, not in the jawbone like endosteal implants. The periodontist makes a metallic frame and fits it on the jawbone but protrudes through your gums to hold the artificial teeth. Subperiosteal implants are ideal for persons that cannot use conventional dentures and those with an insufficient healthy jawbone.
Before your periodontist approves you as a fit candidate for dental implant placement, they should ensure your dental and oral health are perfect. If you have gum disease, they must treat it before undergoing the implant placement procedure. You also must have sufficient jawbone to support the implant.
Periodontists are professionals in the dental implant placement procedure and usually work with other dental professionals to ensure you restore your smile. Due to their skills, periodontists can replace missing teeth to appear as though you have natural teeth, helping you restore your attractive natural smile.
Benefits of Periodontics
Periodontics' primary focus is to address periodontal problems, for instance, periodontitis, early enough and offer immediate care to assist patients in restoring their periodontal health.
Periodontics has several benefits, including a more healthy and attractive smile, relief from discomforting symptoms, and a decreased risk of given general health issues like cardiovascular disease.
Improved General Health
Per the studies, there exists a connection between overall health and gum disease. The theory behind this is that periodontal disease can increase inflammation, which may affect the whole body. Subsequently, if you suffer from gum disease, you may have a more increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid, stroke, respiratory disease, and arthritis. Conversely, focusing on better periodontal health will help lower the risk of these overall health conditions.
Relief from Discomforting Symptoms
Gum disease can result in discomfort. Often, diseased gums become sore, swollen, tender, and susceptible to bleeding when brushing. Tooth sensitivity could also kick in if teeth roots become exposed because of deep gum pockets or gum recession. As the periodontist administers treatment, gum disease symptoms should begin to disappear, allowing you to feel relief and not worry about discomforting symptoms during your oral care routine.
An Enhanced Smile
Periodontics treatment can benefit your smile too. Diseased gums are bad for the smile's appearance since gums become discolored and start receding, exposing more dental crowns and increasing the chances of tooth loss or loose teeth. Through periodontal health improvement, you will feel confident with how your smile looks. Additionally, particular periodontal procedures are conducted for cosmetic benefits, like gum contouring.
As mentioned before, periodontists are dental specialists in diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. Their job also involves providing gum tips to prevent the disease from developing or recurring. Periodontists usually provide the following tips to help prevent gum disease:
- Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash. This assists in removing the remaining food particles in the mouth.
- Ensuring you brush your teeth twice a day to remove plaque and food particles stuck in-between them and beneath your gum line.
- Floss your teeth to remove the food particles stuck in-between your teeth. This is critical for your general oral health and in preventing periodontal disease.
- Avoid any habit that increases the risk of gum risk, like smoking.
Find Expert Periodontics Services Near Me
Everyone is at risk of gum-related problems. If you are already suffering from one, you need to see a periodontist as soon as possible. Consulting with an expert periodontist is crucial for knowing what kind of treatment option you need. At The Whittier Dentist, we employ modern dentistry services to treat gum-related problems to repair and help improve your smile's appearance. Our expert periodontists will develop a customized plan that meets your individual needs. Call us at 562-632-1223 to set up an appointment with us. We will take care of your periodontal health and help you achieve a perfect smile.