Patient Periodontal Frequently-Asked-Questions

Periodontal Associates of Lafayette, Scott A. Reef, DDS, MSD

What is a Periodontist? It is a Periodontal Specialist

A periodontist (or a Periodontal Specialist) is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. Periodontists receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.
Periodontists often treat more problematic periodontal cases, such as those with severe gum disease or a complex medical history. Periodontists offer a wide range of treatments, such as scaling and root planing (in which the infected surface of the root is cleaned) or root surface debridement (in which damaged tissue is removed). They can also treat patients with severe gum problems using a range of surgical procedures. In addition, periodontists are specially trained in the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants.

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What are the benefits of gum graft surgery?

A gum graft can reduce further recession and bone loss. In some cases, it can cover exposed roots to protect them from decay. This may reduce tooth sensitivity and improve esthetics of your smile. Whether you have a gum graft to improve function or esthetics, patients often receive the benefits of both: a beautiful new smile and improved periodontal health – your keys to smiling, eating and speaking with comfort and confidence.

What is the difference between plaque and calculus?

Plaque is the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. Bacteria live in plaque and secrete acids that cause tooth decay and irritate gum tissue. This irritation causes an inflammatory reaction by your body that can eventually lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease. If plaque is not removed regularly by tooth brushing and flossing, it hardens to create calculus (also known as tartar). Calculus cannot be removed with a toothbrush; only a dental professional can remove it during an oral cleaning. To keep plaque and calculus under control, it is essential to brush your teeth twice every day, floss at least once every day, and see your dental professional for regular cleanings.

What are common signs and symptoms of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is often silent, meaning symptoms – particularly pain – may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. However, you should still be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms, which include:
Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or when eating certain foods
Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
Loose or separating teeth
Pus between your gums and teeth
Sores in your mouth
Persistent bad breath
A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
A change in the fit of partial dentures
If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your dentist or periodontist right away!

Who should treat my periodontal disease: my general dentist or a periodontist?

Instead of leaving your treatment to one dental professional, you should consider having both your general dentist and a periodontist be actively involved in the diagnosis and treatment of your periodontal disease. This team approach will help your general dentist (who is familiar with your dental and medical history) and your periodontist (who has extensive experience treating periodontal disease) collaborate to tailor a treatment plan that works best for your individual case.

What Can I Expect After RECEIVING A DENTAL IMPLANT?

As you know, your own teeth require conscientious at-home oral care and regular dental visits. Dental implants are like your own teeth and will require the same care. In order to keep your implant clean and plaque-free, brushing and flossing still apply!
After treatment, your periodontist will work closely with you and your dentist to develop the best care plan for you. Periodic follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor your implant, teeth and gums to make sure they are healthy.

Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?

The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant, and the best candidates have healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease.
Dental implants are intimately connected with the gum tissues and underlying bone in the mouth. Since periodontists are the dental experts who specialize in precisely these areas, they are ideal members of your dental implant team. Not only do periodontists have experience working with other dental professionals, they also have the special knowledge, training and facilities that you need to have teeth that look and feel just like your own. Your dentist and periodontist will work together to make your dreams come true.