WHAT IS A PERIODONTIST?
Each person’s smile is different… but every attractive smile has two things in common: A full set of pearly white teeth, and the right amount of healthy pink gum tissue to show them off. For the most part, your general dentist is the healthcare provider who takes care of your teeth—checking for signs of a problem, providing treatment when needed, and making sure you get regular professional teeth cleanings. But who should you see when your gums need some extra help? That’s a role for a periodontist.
Periodontists are the dental professionals who focus on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the gums, as well as other structures that support the teeth. Among other things, they can recognize and treat the early stages of gum inflammation before it gets out of hand; perform minor surgery to resolve complicated cases of periodontitis (severe gum disease); use lasers or gum grafting techniques to restore the appearance of a smile; and even place dental implants in the jaw, when a tooth can’t be saved.
Periodontists are sometimes called “the plastic surgeons of dentistry.” Like conventional plastic surgeons, they can use various techniques to remodel soft tissue, and even reshape bone in the jaw. But periodontists aren’t just concerned with outward appearances; maintaining healthy, disease-free gums is a key part of good oral health. And when you consider that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, you can see how important healthy gums really are.
PERIODONTISTS OFFER OTHER TREATMENTS
When teeth can’t be saved, many periodontists can provide today’s premier tooth-replacement system: the dental implant. Placed into the jawbone in a minor surgical procedure, these prosthetic teeth are natural-looking and fully functional tooth replacements that can last for the rest of your life.
Periodontists also offer a number of treatments that can improve the appearance of your smile and resolve some dental problems. If you have gum recession, for example, gum graft surgery can be used to cover the exposed roots of teeth with healthy gum tissue—your own tissue, or processed material from a donor. This can give you a better-looking smile, and may also reduce tooth sensitivity and protect against tooth decay in this area.
Crown lengthening surgery can be used as part of a tooth restoration procedure, or to change the appearance of a “gummy” smile—one where there seems to be too much gum and too little tooth. In this procedure, excess gum tissue is reshaped to allow more of the natural tooth (or teeth) to show.