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Periodontists are dentists who have completed a postgraduate program that focuses on dental implants, additional cosmetic dentistry procedures, and treating conditions in the oral tissues. While they specialize in many different aspects of oral health, one of the most common issues they treat is gum disease in all its stages. 

Periodontics is just one of the dental specialties offered at Monarch Dental, where we pride ourselves on being your family’s choice for comprehensive dental care. Whether you need to treat existing gum disease or are just looking to prevent it, let the periodontal experts at Monarch Dental help keep your gums in great shape.

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What is gum disease or periodontitis?

There are a large number of bacteria that enter the mouth regularly through eating and breathing, most of it relatively harmless if it is removed with regular brushing, flossing, and other routine care. However, if bacteria is allowed to accumulate in the mouth–such as in the case of poor oral hygiene or even dry mouth–it can cause an infection that could spread to other parts of the body.  

While there are multiple types of diseases and conditions that can impact the oral structures supporting teeth, all of which periodontists are trained to identify, treat, and prevent, gum disease (or periodontitis)  is one of the most common. Gum disease is a progrressive, chronic condition that can travel throughout the body and has even been found in the brain and heart of patients. 

Gum disease starts as plaque on the teeth or gums that has not been treated and has hardened into tartar. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone because of its texture, so it requires professional removal by a dentist. If not removed regularly–ideally, every six months–tartar can build up and create inflammation and infection that spreads between the gums and teeth, eventually moving to the roots of the teeth and areas around the gumline known as periodontal pockets.  An infected periodontal pocket begins to compromise the health of the adjacent tooth or teeth and needs treatment as soon as possible from a dentist or periodontist.

What are the risk factors for developing gum disease (periodontitis)?

Periodontitis is largely preventable with good dental care, so people with limited or insufficient oral hygiene routines are most at risk for developing it.

There are also certain health factors that can create additional risks for gum disease, particularly for people who have diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and some cancers. Taking medications like steroids, calcium blockers, oral contraceptives, or undergoing chemotherapy treatment has been linked to some periodontal diseases, as has the hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.

Finally, those who use tobacco and alcohol are also at an increased risk for periodontal diseases. 

How do periodontists diagnose gum disease?

The signs of gum disease or periodontitis are  most often identified during routine checkups and cleanings, when you are having the soft plaque removed from your teeth and gums. The dentist will notice if the plaque has hardened into tartar and if there has been any progression of infection or inflammation into the gums. Depending on the stage of the disease, your dentist may either have recommendations for you to reverse the effects or refer you to a periodontist.

Here are some of the things a dentist or periodontist will look for when diagnosing gum disease and identifying which stage it is in:

  1. Chronic bad breath, irritated gums, and large amounts of plaque are associated with gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. This stage, if detected early, can be reversed with good, diligent care. 
  2. Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a chronic condition that begins when bacteria start to deteriorate or infect the gums and other tissues supporting the teeth. This deterioration creates pockets where more bacteria can grow, leading to advanced stages of gum disease. 
  3. In the advanced stages of gum disease, bacteria infects ligaments and bones in the periodontal pockets, causing them to weaken. This leaves teeth unsupported and more prone to falling out or needing extraction. The bacteria can also spread to the bloodstream and cause damage to other teeth and organs. 

To keep gum disease at bay, it’s important to discuss any of the following symptoms with your dentist, since they can be signs of gum disease. The earlier these can be addressed and treated, the better your outcomes are for improving your oral health. 

  • Inflamed, irritated, discolored, or bleeding gums
  • Sores in the mouth, such as on the cheeks or gums
  • Sensitivity in teeth or jaws or a crossbite develops
  • Discoloration of teeth or along the gum line 
  • Excessive amounts of plaque or tartar

What are common periodontal procedures?

While gum disease is perhaps the most common issue treated by periodontists, there are many other procedures periodontists are specifically trained to perform to improve oral health, particularly in the oral tissue. Treatments like deep pocket cleaning, crown lengthening, and dental implants help address bone, gum, and tooth loss as a result of gum disease or infection. 

Another common procedure that may be necessary if bacteria and tartar have infected teeth roots or damaged bones is called flap surgery. Flap surgery, often called pocket reduction surgery, involves cleaning between the teeth and gums to remove infection and tartar buildup. During some flap surgeries, the periodontist may notice deteriorating bone tissue. If this is the case, they will clean the damaged gum and root surfaces and implant a material that resembles fine netting designed to encourage tissue regeneration in the area. This material also reduces the ability of gums to grow in the empty space left by the deteriorated bone, providing a distinct space for both gums and bone tissues to regenerate. If deterioration has occurred in the jawbone, additional grafts may also be necessary to encourage healthy oral support structures. 

Prevent Periodontal Problems with Periodontic Services from Monarch Dental

Periodontal problems like gum disease and periodontitis will not heal on their own, and they can’t be treated properly without professional care. If you are concerned you may be developing or suffering from gum disease, contact the Monarch Dental location nearest you and schedule an appointment with one of our periodontal specialists.  With multiple locations, flexible scheduling, and myriad payment, insurance, and financing options, Monarch Dental makes getting the periodontal care you need convenient and affordable. Don’t wait until it’s too late–treat your periodontal conditions today!