What is a Periodontist?
The gums are an important yet frequently overlooked part of the human anatomy.
Also known as the gingiva, this pink, fleshy tissue surrounds the teeth and covers the jawbone. The gums hold teeth securely in place while acting as a protective barrier and shock absorber. Most people don’t realize that the gums can also become an entry point for bacteria, leading to serious medical issues like pneumonia, bronchitis, and heart disease.
PearlFection Dentistry in Frederick, MD and Urbana, MD recognizes the importance of the gums and other tooth-supporting tissues to maintaining healthy smiles and overall health, with highly trained specialists on staff to diagnose and treat these critical issues. These specialists are known as Periodontists.
What is a Periodontist?
Periodontists are dentists who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease (gum disease), as well as the placement of dental implants. Periodontics is one of nine specialty areas recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA).
The word periodontal originated from the Greek words “peri”, meaning around, and “odon”, meaning tooth. With this definition in mind, periodontists are adept at diagnosing and treating conditions related to the gums as well as the jawbone, ligaments, and other tissues that support the teeth.
What does a Periodontist do?
Top periodontists, including Dr. Sharma and Dr. Pasieta of PearlFection Dentistry, favor a proactive approach that begins with prevention and non-surgical treatments and extends to cutting-edge restorations and surgical procedures if and when they are necessary.
Recognizing the Symptoms
Common signs of early-stage periodontal disease (Gingivitis) might be observed by a general dentist or dental hygienist during teeth cleaning. These symptoms include swollen or bleeding gums, gaps or “pockets” forming between the gum edges and teeth, gum sores, halitosis (bad breath), and unusual sensitivity to hot and/or cold liquids.
Customizing a Treatment Plan with your Periodontist
General dentists receive the training needed to recognize gum disease and treat less serious periodontal cases, but the focused education and training of a periodontist gives them a broader set of diagnostic tools and treatment options.
Once a patient has been referred to a periodontist, they will usually undergo a detailed periodontal exam. A treatment plan will be developed to control or eliminate the symptoms and stop infections from progressing into more severe periodontitis. The periodontist might also request a biopsy to test any suspicious gum sores or lesions.
Some of the many treatments and surgical procedures commonly performed by periodontists include:
- Scaling and Root Planing – Deep teeth cleaning (scaling) with advanced dental tools is used to remove all plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. Rough areas of the roots are then cleaned and smoothed out (planed) so that they will reattach to the teeth more easily.
- Pocket Reduction Surgery – Also known as flap reduction, this minor gum surgery is performed to reduce the size of bacteria-trapping pockets that have formed between the teeth and gums due to the impact of periodontal disease on the supporting tissue and bone.
- Crown lengthening – This form of restorative gum surgery reshapes the gum tissue to expose more of the tooth surface and improve the appearance. This process is also used to avail more of the natural tooth for bonding when a crown is installed over it.
- Frenectomy – The skills and experience of Dr. Sharma and Dr. Pasieta are utilized to perform many types of soft tissue restoration. This includes frenectomy procedures to repair the connecting tissues between the lips, tongue, and gums.
Periodontists and Dental Implants
Periodontists are trained to perform delicate surgical procedures on the jawbone and other tooth-supporting anatomy. This expertise serves them well in the placement of dental implants.
- Dental implants typically consist of a screw-like, metal (titanium) post that is secured to the jawbone. An abutment segment attached to the implant body is used to permanently install a porcelain crown.
- Implant crowns are strong and realistic prosthetics that form the visible portion of the tooth replacement. Crowns can also be used to cover and protect cracked natural teeth. Implant crowns are made by special dental labs based on a cast of the patent’s existing teeth.
- Implant supported dentures are an appliance method where a series of implants is used to permanently fix complete dentures to the jawbone. Unlike removable dentures that rest on the gums, implant supported dentures provide greater convenience along with a more natural look and feel
Oral surgeons are also well-versed in the placement of dental implants. The seating of prosthetic implant crowns might benefit from the expertise of a prosthodontist. With all these valuable specialties under one roof, PearlFection Dentistry fosters a smooth and successful dental implant process with a high standard of patient satisfaction.
Becoming a Periodontist
Periodontists must complete their undergraduate (Bachelors) degree, followed by four years of dental school. From there, they will typically spend three more years in training as a periodontal resident.
During residency, the periodontist-in-training will master dozens of complex surgical procedures and treatments while studying to absorb the latest scientific and practical knowledge. It is no surprise that precision, attention to detail, and curiosity are among the personality traits found in many successful periodontists.
As board certified or board eligible specialists with a wealth of training, knowledge, and experience, Dr. Sharma and Dr. Pasieta combine an unwavering commitment to their craft with a singular dedication to the health and satisfaction of their patients.
Choosing the Right Periodontist
Many of us establish long-term partnerships with our general dentist. They can also become our trusted advisors when we need to choose a specialist. Direct access to top periodontists who put the health and comfort of their patients first can take some of the stress and worry out of this difficult decision.
With over 47% of adults over 30 in the U.S. showing signs of gum disease, a dental office with all specialties (including periodontists) available is a wise and convenient option. The services offered by PearlFection Dentistry range from deep teeth cleaning, whitening, and orthodontics to the placement of complex implant supported dentures.
If you have concerns about the health of your teeth or gums, don't hesitate! The dentists and specialists at PearlFection Dentistry in Frederick Maryland and Urbana Maryland are here to help. Call us at (301) 663-5550 to set up a consultation. We will be happy to answer any questions that you have.