What Is a Periodontist & What Procedures Do They Perform

Periodontists are specialized dentists that specialize in treating diseases and abnormalities of the teeth, gums, and other structures that surround and support your teeth. These experts have a comprehensive knowledge of periodontal diseases, implants, crown lengthening tissue grafting techniques and various soft-tissue surgical treatments.

If you’ve been wondering about the ways in which a periodontist can help with your dental care needs, this article will provide an overview of what periodontists do as well as some procedures that may be done when working with one.

What is a Periodontist?

A periodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal diseases, also known as gum diseases. These diseases affect the gums, bone, and other supporting tissues that surround and hold the teeth in place.

Periodontists undergo an additional three years of training after completing dental school, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal diseases, as well as the placement of dental implants. They are also trained in cosmetic periodontal procedures such as gum grafting to improve the appearance of the gums.

Periodontists commonly treat patients with moderate to severe gum disease, which can cause symptoms such as bleeding gums, bad breath, and loose teeth. Treatment options may include deep cleaning procedures, antibiotics, and surgery.

It is important to see a periodontist if you are experiencing any signs of gum disease or have a family history of periodontal disease. Regular check-ups with a periodontist can help prevent and treat gum disease, which is important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. It is caused by the buildup of bacteria and plaque on the teeth and gums, which can lead to inflammation and damage to the gums, bone, and other supporting tissues.

There are two main stages of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the earlier stage and is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. At this stage, the disease can often be reversed with good oral hygiene and regular professional dental cleanings.

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which is a more severe form of the disease. In periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that become infected. The body’s immune system responds by breaking down the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place. Over time, this can lead to tooth loss.

Risk factors for periodontal disease include poor oral hygiene, smoking, genetics, hormonal changes, certain medications, and medical conditions such as diabetes.

Treatment for periodontal disease may involve deep cleaning procedures, antibiotics, surgery, and ongoing maintenance to prevent the disease from recurring. It is important to see a dentist or periodontist if you are experiencing symptoms of periodontal disease or have a family history of the disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further damage to the teeth and gums.

Procedures Performed by a Periodontist

A periodontist performs a variety of procedures that are focused on the health of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling involves the removal of plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the surface of the teeth, above and below the gumline. This is done using special tools, such as ultrasonic scalers and hand instruments, to remove the buildup.

Root planing is the process of smoothing out the surface of the tooth root to remove any rough or contaminated areas. This helps to remove bacterial toxins and encourages the reattachment of the gum tissue to the tooth root.

The procedure is typically done under local anesthesia to make the patient more comfortable. It may be done in one or more visits depending on the severity of the gum disease.

Gum Grafting

Gum grafting is a surgical procedure that involves taking gum tissue from one area of the mouth and grafting it onto another area that has experienced gum recession. The goal of gum grafting is to cover exposed tooth roots, reduce sensitivity, and improve the appearance of the gums.

Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening is a surgical dental procedure that involves the removal of gum tissue and/or bone to expose more of a tooth’s surface. This can be done for functional or cosmetic reasons.

The procedure is typically done under local anesthesia to numb the area. The periodontist or dentist will make incisions in the gum tissue to pull it away from the tooth, exposing the underlying bone. If necessary, some of the bone may be removed to achieve the desired tooth length. The gum tissue is then repositioned and sutured back into place.

Pocket Reduction Surgery

Pocket reduction surgery, also known as flap surgery, is a dental procedure used to treat periodontal disease, specifically to reduce the depth of periodontal pockets.

Periodontal pockets are spaces that form between the teeth and gums as a result of periodontal disease. These pockets can become filled with bacteria and plaque, which can lead to further damage to the gums, bone, and other supporting tissues. Pocket reduction surgery is performed to remove the bacteria and plaque from the pockets and to reduce their depth.

During the surgery, the periodontist will make incisions in the gum tissue to lift it away from the teeth and create a flap. The underlying tooth roots and bone will then be cleaned of any bacteria and plaque buildup, and any damaged tissue will be removed. The flap is then repositioned and sutured back into place.

Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is a surgical dental procedure that involves adding bone or bone-like material to the jawbone to improve its strength and density. The goal of bone grafting is to provide a stable foundation for dental implants or to prevent further bone loss in the jaw.

Bone grafting is typically done under local anesthesia to numb the area. The periodontist or oral surgeon will make an incision in the gum tissue to expose the underlying bone. The bone graft material is then placed in the area where bone loss has occurred. The graft material can come from the patient’s own body (such as the chin or hip), from a donor, or it can be synthetic.

Guided Tissue Regeneration

Guided tissue regeneration (GTR) is a dental procedure used to regenerate lost or damaged periodontal tissue. This technique involves placing a barrier membrane over the area of tissue loss, which helps to guide the growth of new tissue.

The barrier membrane is typically made of a synthetic material or collagen and is designed to prevent the growth of gum tissue into the area of tissue loss, while allowing bone and periodontal ligament cells to grow. Over time, the body’s natural healing process will allow new bone and periodontal tissue to grow in the space created by the barrier membrane. The membrane will eventually dissolve or be removed by the periodontist.

Contact Olympic View Dental For All Your Periodontal Needs

When you are looking for quality periodontal care, look no further than Olympic View Dental. Our experienced and knowledgeable dentists have the tools and skills to provide the highest level of precision dental care possible. We offer a wide range of services from gum disease prevention, periodontal maintenance, to scaling and root planning. Our team is dedicated to providing an excellent experience that puts your health first. Contact us today for an appointment and let us help you find a healthier, more beautiful smile!


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