Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of dentist treats gum disease?
There are nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. They are: orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics; pediatric dentistry; periodontics; prosthodontics; oral and maxillofacial surgery; oral and maxillofacial pathology; endodontics; public health dentistry; and oral and maxillofacial radiology.
Periodontics is a dental specialty. The word “periodontics” comes from two Greek words: “peri,” which means “around” and “odont,” which means “tooth.” So, the field of periodontics treats conditions that affect the tissues “around your teeth,” such as bone loss, gum recession, periodontal (gum) disease, and dental implants. In addition to graduating from a four-year dental school, a periodontist receives three years of additional training before earning their license to practice periodontics in the U.S.
Why would you see a periodontist?
There are several reasons why someone would need to see a periodontist. Some people only need to see a periodontist temporarily. In other words, they may need to undergo treatment that’s outside the scope of practice for a general dentist. For example, maybe you need a gum graft, bone graft, Frenectomy or a dental implant. A periodontist can perform your surgical treatment, then refer you back to your general dentist when your recovery is complete.
Other people may need to see a periodontist long term. This includes people who are prone to gum disease. Those who are genetically predisposed to gum disease usually need periodontal cleanings in addition to routine cleanings at their dentist’s office. In these cases, your periodontist will work closely alongside of your general dentist. You’ll continue to receive care from both of them in order to maintain optimal oral health.
What is Scaling and Root Planing?
“Scaling and root planing (SRP)” is another term for a deep dental cleaning. The main difference is that SRP requires local anesthesia to numb your gums. This allows your hygienist to clean deep underneath your gum line, where harmful bacteria hide. They’ll also smooth the surfaces of your teeth roots to discourage plaque and bacteria from building up. Without anesthesia, SRP can be uncomfortable. Luckily, we do not need to give needles for SRP. We have a special type of gel that we place into the gum pocket to numb the tissue without needles! The numbing will wear off 30-60 minutes after the procedure and most of the time, there is no discomfort after SRP.
Periodontists typically recommend scaling and root planing for initial treatment of gum disease. Further treatment may be recommended after the patient returns for a re-evaluation 4-6 weeks after their initial therapy of SRP.
What is periodontal maintenance?
Periodontal maintenance refers to a type of teeth cleaning. It’s similar to a regular cleaning at your dentist’s office. But in addition to cleaning your teeth, your periodontist or hygienist checks your gum health and measures the pockets around your teeth. (When you lose bone around your teeth, the pockets get deeper.) Many people who need periodontal maintenance should have these cleanings every three to four months. Your periodontist can recommend a cleaning schedule that’s right for you.
Do I need periodontal maintenance forever?
Instead, you will require special ongoing gum and bone care procedures, known as Periodontal Maintenance Therapy, to keep the disease under control and keep your mouth healthy. In most cases, Periodontal Disease is a lifelong disease that never goes away.
Can my teeth be saved if I have periodontal disease?
If you have advanced periodontal disease (periodontitis), treatments are available to help you save your teeth. However, time is of the essence, as tooth loss is imminent when severe gum disease is allowed to progress. Left untreated, gingivitis will progress to periodontitis, which can range from moderate to severe. While gingivitis causes unpleasant symptoms, most of those symptoms are reversible. Periodontitis causes irreversible damage to your teeth and supporting structures.
Can a regular dentist treat gum disease?
While a general dentist can treat gum disease with cleanings, moderate to severe periodontal disease should be referred to the periodontist. The periodontist can provide services that the general dentist is not trained to perform.
Can I go straight to a periodontist?
If you notice any of the common signs of periodontitis, you can decide to see a periodontist even without a referral.
Will It Hurt?
The periodontal exam can be completed with little or no discomfort. We will be as gentle as possible.
Do I Need X-Rays?
We will need current periodontal x-rays in order to see disease not otherwise visible. If your referring dentist has taken x-rays, you may request that they be forwarded to us.
What Will It Cost?
Since all patients are different, your periodontist must complete your examination before establishing your treatment planning and the fee for care. The fee for periodontal treatment can vary considerably depending on the type of problems and the complexity and length of treatment. An approximate fee can usually be determined at the initial visit; but on occasion, some initial treatment or further diagnostics must be completed before the final treatment planning can be established. Our philosophy of practice is to treat as conservatively as possible to attain treatment goals.
Will My Insurance Cover The Cost?
Dental insurance policies often cover periodontal treatment. Please bring all medical and dental benefit information and cards to your examination appointment. Upon request, we will submit a claim to predetermine your insurance benefits; however, this is not required by most plans.
Will I Need Surgery?
Not everyone needs periodontal surgery. If treated early, gum disease can be controlled without surgery. We will make recommendations based on your individual situation. Our philosophy of practice is to treat as conservatively as possible to attain treatment goals.
Can My Teeth Be Saved?
The recent advances in periodontal treatment allow us to successfully treat most teeth.
When Will I Go Back To My General Dentist?
Our office and your dentist will work closely together. If crowns and fillings are needed your dentist will provide them. Regular visits to your dentist are an important part of periodontal maintenance.
What If I Don’t Have Gum Treatment?
Periodontal disease is a progressive, painless infection. Delay can cause you further bone loss and more expense. If your teeth are lost, dentures are never as effective as your own natural teeth.