Why have I been referred to a periodontist for a periodontal evaluation?

A regular visit to your periodontist should be part of your overall health and wellness plan. And while a bi-annual dental check up and cleaning are necessary, these visits may not include a detailed look at the health of your gums.

Some patients’ periodontal needs can be managed by the general dentist or hygienist.
As more and more patients are having signs of moderate or severe levels of periodontal disease or more complex diseases, periodontal treatment may necessitate an increased level of expertise by a trained periodontist. A team approach will help your general dentist and periodontist collaborate to tailor a treatment plan that works best for you.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, it is recommended that all adults should undergo a comprehensive periodontal examination once a year. With periodontal disease affecting nearly 64.7 million people in the United States (almost one in every two adults over the age of 30), the health of your gums should be monitored consistently to minimize your risk. An annual comprehensive periodontal examination can detect periodontal disease and is the first step to creating a suitable treatment and/or maintenance plan for your individual situation.

What are common signs and symptoms of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is often silent and symptoms may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease are:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Pus between gums and teeth
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way the teeth fit together when you bite (shifting teeth)

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is a chronic inflammatory condition in which plaque bacteria accumulate below the gum line. Over time, the inflammatory response to the bacteria can cause the erosion of gum tissue and supporting bone. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. The good news is that through such treatments as periodontal therapy, we can help you reduce the inflammation in your gums.

Is there any link between periodontal disease and systemic conditions?

A growing body of research suggests that periodontal disease may share a link with other
systemic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Recent studies indicate that
inflammation may be the culprit behind these links. In fact, periodontal disease is often
considered one of the major complications of diabetes. Interestingly, as diabetes can increase a person’s chance of developing periodontal disease, research has also shown that efficient and effective periodontal hygiene may positively affect blood sugar levels. Therefore, treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Is smoking/tobacco use bad for my periodontal health?

Tobacco use is associated with a number of serious systemic conditions such as cancer, lung
cancer and heart disease among others. Smokers also exhibit an increased risk for periodontal disease. Research has shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.

What can I do to establish periodontal health?

The first step toward good periodontal health begins with proper oral hygiene, which can go a long way toward preventing certain forms of periodontal disease and reversing gingivitis. Good oral hygiene includes brushing your teeth at least twice each day, flossing at least once each day and seeing a periodontist annually for a comprehensive periodontal evaluation. Identifying symptoms of gum disease early is key to protecting your gums and teeth.

What is non-surgical periodontal treatment (deep cleaning)?

Deep cleaning, also known as non-surgical periodontal therapy, is a non-invasive measure of
preventing the progression of periodontal disease. A deep cleaning goes beneath the gum line to remove plaque, bacteria and other toxins from areas that brushing and flossing cannot reach, reducing the risk of disease advancement. A routine cleaning does not require the dentist or hygienist to go below the gum line; therefore, the procedure does not eliminate the cause of disease if it is present. Oral antibiotics as well as anti-microbial mouth rinses can be used short term, if needed, to control bacteria and treatment periodontal infection.

Why do I need to return to the clinic for re-evaluation 6 weeks after the

During this appointment, the response to the treatment is assessed. Clinical examination is
performed as it was done during the initial consultation in order to determine if further treatment is necessary. If additional treatment is required, a treatment plan will be developed to help restore your smile to a state of health. If inflammation and deep pockets are present after deep cleaning, we may recommend flap surgery or bone grafting to minimize the depth of the pocket.
If you don’t require further treatment, you will enter a maintenance phase, and thorough checkups on your teeth and gums will occur every few months or so.

What are the risks of not having periodontal treatment?

  • It’s imperative that active infection and deep periodontal pockets are treated in order to avoid having:
  • Premature loss of teeth
  • Gum recession (long teeth)
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Loosening of teeth
  • Abscesses (gum boils)
  • Tooth drifting, flaring, or other tooth movement
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Further deepening of periodontal and/or pus pockets
  • Risk of root decay