Maintaining Good Periodontal Health
Healthy gums are important not only for your smile but for your overall health. Researchers have linked periodontal disease to severe medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Yet, many people are unaware that they have gum disease because they have no pain symptoms.
Initial stages of periodontal disease often cause no pain or symptoms. Yet, the infection is real and wreaking havoc under the gums. If left undiagnosed and untreated, periodontal disease can destroy the bones that support the teeth and cause tooth loss, or more seriously, can increase health risks for respiratory, cardiovascular, and other diseases.
Often, gum disease is diagnosed after a routine dental exam and x-rays. Other times, the patient initially suspects gum disease after symptoms of red, swollen, or bleeding gums or other abnormal oral conditions. If gum disease is suspected, it is important to seek the services of a periodontist for optimal results. Periodontists are dentists with advanced post doctoral training in periodontics: the study, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum diseases.
Periodontist treatments include preventative and rehabilitative measures. Dr. Mark J. Weingarden, periodontist Pennsylvania, helped to develop a pioneering periodontal software package that helps in early detection of problems and prevention of additional treatment needs. Dr. Weingarden says, “Prevention is the best way to save your teeth and gums, save money, and avoid re-treatment.”
Preventative programs may include: counseling about tobacco, diet, stress, and proper oral hygiene; addressing bruxing or teeth clinching issues; maintaining a regular professional cleaning schedule; scaling and root planing (a thorough cleaning below the gum line to remove plaque and tartar that cannot be removed through routine professional cleanings or brushing and flossing); and use of the Perioscope, advanced technology that allows for a minimally invasive approach to treatment of initial gum disease when scaling and root planing is not adequate.
When intervention and rehabilitative measures are necessary, periodontists may offer any number of procedures from laser treatment to bone or gum grafting to dental implants. Laser treatments may include gingevectomy/gingivoplasty, frenectomy, soft tissue biopsies and gingival sculpting associated with periodontal plastic surgical procedures. Soft tissue gum grafting can offer protection from decay, relief from sensitivity, and a more esthetically pleasing smile, while further preventing gum recession.
Bone grafting is performed to maintain and restore parts of the jaw bone after bone or tooth loss due to periodontal disease, injury, or other causes. It is important in helping to prevent jaw deformities. Periodontal disease can cause the jaw bone to erode. Further, once a tooth is lost or extracted, the bone area surrounding the empty socket will begin to diminish, unless bone grafting is performed. Bone grafting preserves the area and prepares it for further treatment such as implants. Bone grafting is also used to augment current bone structures, such as in the sinus region, to help develop an appropriate surface for dental implants.
Most periodontists recommend dental implants over bridges, partials, or dentures because implants are integrated into the jaw bone, like real teeth, and prevent bone loss. With bridges, partials, and dentures, the bone can still deteriorate, which may require additional repair, root canals, and treatment. Thus, dental implants are the better long-term investment for your smile and your health.