Periodontics is a dental specialty that involves prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues. If you want to keep your teeth for life — a completely reasonable goal in this day and age — you need to make sure the tissues that surround them are also healthy. Should gum problems arise, you may need periodontal therapy to restore diseased tissues to health. Learn more about Periodontal Disease & Therapy.
When to See a Periodontist
Anytime is a good time to be seen by a periodontist for evaluation. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of problems that affect the gums and other supporting tissues of the teeth, and in the placement of dental implants. Typically, a periodontist has had two to three years of additional training in diagnosing and treating gum disease and its associated problems. Periodontists are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. Moreover, periodontists can perform cosmetic periodontal procedures to improve your smile. Dentists often refer their patients to a periodontist when their periodontal disease is advanced.
Often, the only way to detect periodontal disease is through a periodontal evaluation. A periodontal evaluation may be especially important if:
- You notice any symptoms of periodontal disease.
- You are not satisfied with your current tooth replacement option, such as a bridge or dentures, and may be interested in dental implants.
- You are thinking of becoming pregnant. Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby born too early and too small. In addition, about half of women experience "pregnancy gingivitis." However, women who have good oral hygiene and have no gingivitis before pregnancy are very unlikely to experience this condition.
- You feel that your teeth are too short or that your smile is too "gummy." Or, if you are missing one or more of your teeth and are interested in a long-lasting replacement option.
- You have a family member with periodontal disease. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
- You have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis. Ongoing research is showing that periodontal disease may be linked to these conditions. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can travel into the blood stream and pose a threat to other parts of the body. Healthy gums may lead to a healthier body.