Periodontics is a specialty in dentistry that focuses primarily on periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease can lead to more than just an unsightly smile—it can cause loss of teeth & eventually, if left untreated, other more serious health problems.
Called gingivitis in its early stages, periodontal disease is caused by excessive toxic bacteria (found in plaque) that attack your mouth’s soft tissues. Early warning signs of this disease include red, swollen or bleeding gums. If caught early, we can help you reverse the damage. If detected late, we can use one of the many effective restorative dentistry procedures to restore your mouth to its healthy & beautiful state.
General dentists are trained to detect periodontal disease & treat it in early stages. However, they often refer complicated or later-stage cases to a specialist. Periodontists undergo an additional three years of training in periodontics, specializing in gum disease, oral inflammation & dental implants. Because of their expertise in the soft tissues of the mouth, they are also often experts in soft-tissue cosmetic procedures, such as crown lengthening or gum lifts.
Patients often don’t experience pain with gum disease, but they might notice bad breath, a change in how their teeth fit together when they bite or bleeding while brushing or flossing. However, those symptoms can be easy to miss or dismiss, so it’s important to keep your regular dental appointments. General dentists look for warning signs of periodontal disease when they perform regular hygiene exams, but it can be beneficial to have a periodontist take a look as well.
During an exam, periodontists check the color of your gums, whether they are receding from your teeth, if there are gaps between them & your teeth & how easily they bleed. But they also look at your bite (or how your top & bottom teeth line up when you close them) & whether any of your teeth feel loose. Additionally, periodontists are well-trained in identifying whether a patient is at higher risk of developing gum disease.
Gum disease has been shown to have a relationship with other medical conditions, so a patient’s risk isn’t confined to their dental situation. Those with heart disease, diabetes & pregnancy are at higher risk for developing periodontal disease. Patients being treated for any of those conditions should inform their dentist or periodontist. Additionally, age, diet, genetics, medications, stress, grinding & smoking habits affect your risk.
The good news is that if you are at higher risk for periodontal disease, you can take measures to prevent it. Keeping up with regular at-home hygiene, making sure to floss at least once every day, is the best thing you can do for prevention. Also, don’t miss your six-month cleaning visits. If your dentist or periodontist believes you are still at higher risk, they might recommend more frequent cleanings or regular deep cleanings.
Deep cleanings, also known as scaling & root planing, are the gold standard of periodontal care. Scaling is the process of cleaning tartar & plaque from teeth under the gums & root planing describes smoothing those same surfaces so bacteria doesn’t as easily stick to them.
Let us help you keep your teeth & gums strong & disease-free with regular examinations & cleanings.
General Dentistry Often Overlap Other Categories of Dentistry
While our general dental services don’t necessarily include cosmetic or restorative treatments, many times general dentistry treatments get bundled up with cosmetic or restorative care treatment plans. For example, if you’re getting a full smile makeover, we may change the position of your teeth with aligners & make their shape more uniform using bonding. Nobody has the same dental situation or dental care goals. That’s why many general dentistry treatments seem to overlap with other categories of dentistry.
All dentists get training in general dentistry when they’re in dental school, even if they move on to specialize in a certain area of dentistry later on (such as cosmetic dentistry or orthodontics). Depending on where you live or the certifications they have earned, some dental hygienists can perform certain parts of a general dental procedure (helping to size crowns, for example).
Connection Between Your Oral Health & Overall Health
There is a big connection between your oral health & your overall health. General dentistry can address some situations that may be linked to other health conditions. For example, dentists can assess problems with your jaw joint (TMD) or even spot signs of sleep apnea or potential causes for migraines. So don’t be surprised if we ask you about more than just your teeth & gums!
General Dentistry Includes Non-Invasive Actions
General dentistry also includes the non-invasive actions our dental team will take in the effort the keep you healthy & comfortable. Many diagnostic scans or examinations, such as those that look at your bite & how your teeth fit together (called occlusion by dentists) would be considered general dentistry. Local anesthesia & light sedation are also common & apply to so many different dental care situations that they fall under this category.
Preventing Dental Problems
Preventive dentistry is the area of dentistry concerned with preventing dental problems before they become costly, painful or both. A large part of preventive dentistry is patient education. This includes learning the proper at-home dental care, nutrition, etc. Another aspect of preventive dentistry is oral hygiene through regular dental cleanings, fluoride treatments, mouthguards & more.
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