Having symptoms of gum inflammation or early signs of periodontal disease are two of the more common reasons people visit a periodontist. Different that other, more well known, types of dentists, periodontists have specialized training in the prevention and treatment of a variety of diseases and issues with the teeth and gums.
Educating oneself about how a periodontist can help them is the best way to advocate for their rights to appropriate and effective dental care.
In this article we will talk about what a periodontist is and how they are different from other dental professionals. We will discuss the different reasons someone would need to visit a periodontist and talk in more in detail about the signs, symptoms and treatments that anyone visiting a periodontist can expect.
Later in the article, we will dive into treatments offered by periodontists and briefly discuss some guidelines to help a patient learn to advocate for a referral to a periodontist when appropriate. Understanding what periodontists do and their own reasons for needing to see a periodontist will go a long way in a patient’s ability to convey their distress to their general dentist.
Below is a full guide to researching about a periodontist in Fort Lauderdale.
It’s important to understand that even though you may have many of the symptoms of periodontal or gum disease – that doesn’t mean you have the disease. Getting your mouth checked out by your general dentist is just as important as going with your gut on if you need to seek a periodontist specialist.
Most periodontists prefer that patients who have symptoms visit their general dentist to rule out more common causes for the pain. Typically only after persistent pain, a referral to the appropriate type of dental professional occurs. This article will attempt to help patients understand if seeking out a periodontist may be right for them.
What is a periodontist?
Periodontists are dentists that specialize in gum disease. Periodontists have experience with not only treating diseases but also working to prevent them. Specialized training enables periodontists to accurately diagnose periodontal disease and treat oral and gum inflammation.
It’s also common for patients who need dental implants placed to be referred to a periodontist. It’s often that dental cases with more complex medical histories are also get the treatment they need from periodontists. Patients with severe gum disease increasingly report finally seeing improvements in their oral health after visiting a periodontist.
What is different about periodontist training?
Periodontists invest an additional 3 years into their education and training past a general dentist. The specialized training that occurs during that time includes learning how to treat a variety of complex oral complaints for patients. Their training makes them experts at treating and preventing gum inflammation and disease.
The additional 3 years of training the periodontists sign up for teaches them to deal with complex cases and also innovative ways to treat severe gum diseases. Upon completing periodontist training, they also have the needed education to place, repair and replace dental implants.
Periodontist vs Dentist
There are 2 main differences between a periodontist and a dentist. The first being what they treat and the second in the education they receive prior to entering their professional career. Many people who maintain their dental health won’t have a need for a referral to a periodontist in their lifetime.
Periodontists don’t provide x-rays and teeth cleanings as a regular service like most dentists. Instead they focus on more complex conditions of the mouth. Gum inflammation and periodontal disease treatment are among the most common patients see a periodontist in Fort Lauderdale for. Patients who need dental implants placed or maintained may also be referred to a periodontist as a regular dentist may not be experienced or trained to work with implants.
In addition to completing the same education requirements as a regular dentists, periodontists receive further education. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontists are required 3 additional years of education after they receive their doctoral. This equips them with the skills and expertise needed to treat more complex cases.
Licensing requirements for periodontist are also more extensive. Periodontists in Fort Lauderdale and other areas of the country are required to maintain a license to practice dentistry as well a periodontics. To meet these requirements, periodontists often must complete additional education that other types of dentists do not.
Periodontist vs Orthodontist
Both orthodontists and periodontists in Boca Raton are trained in specialized dentistry. These types of dentists complete postdoctoral education for their specialties. While both treat issues of the mouth, the approach and focus of these types of dentists remain different.
An orthodontist is trained to correct the alignment of teeth and the bite. Over the years advancement in orthodontic technology has allowed for products like Invisalign and other straightening trays more convenient for patients. With training that is solely designed to understand and interpret alignment of the jaw and teeth, orthodontists don’t work with the gums.
As we have already discussed, periodontists and their specialized education are more focused on gums and complex diseases of the mouth. The difference between a periodontist and an orthodontist is not the amount of education but instead the type of education and focus. Patients may need to see both an orthodontist and a periodontist to maintain their oral health throughout the course of their life.
Periodontist vs Endodontist
Like Orthodontists, Endodontists are also a specialized type of dentist. This means that Periodontists Orthodontist and Endodontists all receive postdoctoral education. Each type of specialty dentistry has a different focus for their education and which part of the teeth and gums they treat.
Endodontists and Periodontists are similar in the way they both treat disease. Focusing on the diseases of the pulp and soft tissue of the tooth makes the endodontist the type of dentist people see when they need a tooth saved or a root canal.
As we know – periodontists specialize in the prevention and treatment of gum disease. You’ll be more likely to visit a periodontist in Fort Lauderdale if you experience gum inflammation or signs of periodontal disease.
Reasons to visit a periodontist in Fort Lauderdale
Typically patients are referred to a periodontist for treatment of gum disease. When the process starts early, the gum disease treatments can be more effective. Gum inflammation, gingivitis and periodontal disease are also common reasons to visit a periodontist.
Due to lack of education, many people are unaware of when they need to see a periodontist or other type of specialized dentist. Largely because they do not know the signs and symptoms of gum disease, many patients come in to receive treatment after their oral health has started to severely deteriorate. With appropriate knowledge about gum inflammation and periodontal disease, patients may be able to seek out the expertise of a periodontist while prevention is still applicable.
In the coming paragraphs the types of gum diseases, their causes and their symptoms will be discussed. Later in the article the treatments that periodontists provide will be discussed in further detail. Educating patients about their gum health is a large part of the job of an effective periodontist and will further help the Boca Raton and Coral Springs communities take control of their oral health.
What are the different types of gum disease that periodontists treat?
There are 2 main types of gum disease that periodontists typically treat. One of the types of gum disease can eventually turn into the second type and a more severe form of gum disease. Gingivitis and periodontal disease both impact the structural integrity of the mouth. Knowing the signs and seeking treatment prior to gingivitis evolving into more severe periodontal disease can help patients keep their gums and teeth healthy for longer.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease
Often caused by a bacterial infection and lack of proper oral hygiene, gingivitis is noted to cause redness and gum inflammation. Even with the signs and symptoms obvious, many people do not know they have or are experiencing gingivitis. This is dangerous for oral health because if left untreated gingivitis can turn into periodontitis.
This makes understanding the signs and symptoms of gingivitis a valuable tool in maintaining oral health. Several people have gum disease without having symptoms at all, while others may experience more intense and noticeable symptoms. Patients don’t usually have all of the symptoms listed below, but instead different combinations of a few of the listed signs. Experiencing symptoms of gum disease is not a backburner health issue that should be put off. It’s as important as going to the doctor when you feel like you have a cold. If any of the below symptoms are experienced, seeing a general dentist to see if a referral to a periodontist may be ideal for proper oral care.
Gum disease symptoms that periodontists often see
- Redness on the gums and around the gum line
- Gums that are swollen or tender
- Reports of gums bleeding when brushing or flossing the teeth
- Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth
- Teeth that feel loose
- Overly sensitive teeth
- Changes in bite
- Pain in the teeth and gums when chewing
- Foul smelling breath that doesn’t go away
- pus between the teeth and gums.
Periodontitis is the second and more invasive form of gum disease.
Bacteria and plaque gathered around the gum line in patients with gingivitis can eventually begin to spread into harder to reach places. When gum disease escalates to periodontal disease many patients are still unaware of the deterioration of their oral health. It happens slowly, over a long period of time and the periodontal disease stages are often predictable.
The bacterial infection and the toxins associated with the plaque build up eventually extend below the gum line. This creates a response similar to other infections in the body and the body begins to turn on fight defenses that work against the attack of the infection. This internal fight results in the breakdown of teeth and gums.
When the breakdown occurs, large pockets, filled with infection are left to live in the gums and further separate the teeth and gums. Progression of the disease means that those pockets of infection deepen, destroying more gum tissue and even bone. Four different types of periodontitis occur in patients – but all have the same devastating effects and often mild, un-noticed symptoms.
The 4 types of periodontitis and their differences
This is the type most commonly found in adults. Over time inflammation in the gums progresses to destruction of supporting tissues around the teeth and bone loss. This form is often slow and characterized by pockets forming under the gums and or recession of the gum line.
Typically characterized by it’s rapid destruction, this type of periodontitis commonly occurs in patients that are otherwise clinically healthy. This form is more fast and aggressive with attachment loss and bone destruction.
Periodontitis caused by systemic disease
This type of periodontal disease occurs as a result of a systemic condition instead of a lack of oral hygiene or oral bacterial build-up. Unlike chronic periodontitis, this type often begins at a younger age because of the patient’s struggle with systemic disease processes. Conditions that are known to cause this type of periodontitis are diabetes, and a variety of heart and respiratory diseases.
Necrotizing periodontal disease
A further breakdown of oral health commonly occurs in patients with immunosuppression and malnutrition. In this type of periodontitis, the infection begins to kill tissues, ligaments and alveolar bone. Practicing excellent oral hygiene can help for patients who are at a higher risk for periodontal disease because of their systemic condition.
Those living in Fort Lauderdale Florida can depend on a Florida Smiles Dental Periodontist to treat gum disease.
Patients who live in in Boca Raton, Cooper City and Hollywood communities in Florida have dedicated periodontists available to educate, prevent and treat gum disease. In addition to ensuring patients know how to implement proper oral care to improve their gum health, periodontist are also able to provide numerous types of treatments. Periodontics treatments offered to a patient vary based on the stage of their periodontal disease. Some forms of treatment may require periodontics procedures.
What is periodontal disease treatment?
Periodontal disease treatment is completed by a licensed periodontist and can include non-invasive procedures as well as dental surgery. After a thorough examination, recommendations for treatment are given to the patient. According governing guidelines, periodontist are obligated to treat gum disease in the least invasive and most cost effective way possible.
This leads most periodontist to begin treating patients with non-invasive periodontal treatment options. While these options don’t work for everyone, many who receive them report improvements in oral health after non-surgical interventions.
Non-Invasive Periodontics treatment offered in Fort Lauderdale
2 types of treatmentare effective for periodontal disease in it’s early stages and/or to treat gingivitis before it begins to turn into periodontitis. Coupled with the patient implementing and committing to a strict oral care regimen, those who undergo these non-invasive treatments often don’t see further progression through the stages of periodontal disease. When the infection and pockets are more severe, a dental surgery approach may be suggested.
Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing
This type of periodontics treatment involves a careful cleaning of the teeth. Specialized tools and techniques allow periodontists to clean plaque and tartar from the root surfaces. This process also includes removing bacterial toxins from deep pockets created by periodontitis. Periodontists often use this treatment to smooth out the tooth root. To increase it’s effectiveness for some patients additional therapies are prescribed alongside the scaling and root planning.
Antibiotics and anti-microbial delivery are commonly recommended in conjunction with this non-invasive treatment. Many patients do not need further treatment after this, however, statistics show that most of those patients will need maintenance appointments to maintain their oral health.
Laser Treatment for Gum Disease
Less invasive than traditional planing and scaling is a new and more technologically advanced approach. Florida Smiles Dental offers laser treatment (LANAP) for gum disease at both their Fort Lauderdale and Lighthouse Pointe locations. This treatment option is effective and damages less of the already compromised gum tissue than other treatments.
After scaling and planing, patients are often treated with antibiotics to prevent infection and many have to take over the counter pain medications because of the soreness after the unpleasant experience of a deep oral cleaning. With LANAP, patients don’t experience the discomfort reported with other procedures. Recovery time and discomfort are minimal for this type of periodontal procedure.
Preferred by many patients and periodontists, this highly innovative treatment option is more reliable because the outcomes are more predictable and the bacteria targeted is eliminated with laser point accuracy. Patients often seen about a 90% reduction in the gum inflammation they were previously experiencing and with this type of procedure patients also have a lower risk of infection.
Even though it’s preferred to other procedures, LANAP is still sometimes ineffective for patients who have severe periodontitis. Not all patients are able to have their gum disease fixed with a non-invasive procedure. Reasons for the difference in which treatment a patient needs vary from person to person. For some the periodontal disease has progressed into a later stage and the infection has spread too far for scaling an planing to be an effective treatment. In those cases, periodontist may recommend one or many of the more invasive and surgical options.
Periodontal surgery options
Several surgical options and periodontics procedures are available for patients to choose from. Periodontists at Florida Smiles Dental will recommend what they believe to be the best treatment for each patient. On a case by case basis, the stages of gum diseases are evaluated and a treatment or procedure that is a good fit for the patient is discussed. During an appointment, a periodontist may recommend any of the following types of periodontal surgery.
Gum graft surgery
Repairing the gums has been known to help ease some of the symptoms of periodontal disease in patients. Also recognized as aiding to prevent an escalation in the stages of gum disease, this procedure can halt the spread of infection for some patients. Gum graft surgery also helps patients feel more confident with their smile by evening out their gum line.
During this periodontics procedure, tissue from a source point in the mouth is removed and used to cover up the tooth root that has been exposed from receding gums. Serving several purposes, this procedure helps improve sensitivity and helps to keep periodontal pockets from forming or worsening. The newly covered tooth root is also further protected from decay after a gum graft procedure.
Regenerative procedure to treat periodontitis
This type of periodontics procedure is recommended to patients that have damaged or destroyed bones that are supposed to be supporting their teeth. Damage this severe occurs when the pockets that contain the bacterial infection have caused the periodontal disease to begin attacking the bone.
During the procedure, the gum tissue is peeled back and the periodontist removes the bacteria that has settled into the bone. After removing the bacteria, they will attempt to encourage the bone to regenerate by using bone grafts, membranes, and proteins that stimulate tissue to grow.
This procedure helps to reduce the depth of the pockets that form and helps to repair bone and other tissues that had been destroyed by the periodontal disease process. While this type of procedure is highly effective, like all other periodontal treatments, maintenance lies in the hands of the patient.
Depending on how far the degeneration of tissue and bone has progressed, dental implants may be needed for some or all teeth effected by periodontal disease. Some tooth roots are more susceptible to the bacterial infection and may not be able to be saved.
Dental implants are surgically placed into the bone that teeth are attached too. Different than dentures, implants are cared for just like regular teeth and don’t come out. Offered as a restorative option for many patients who have had or are still dealing with the effects of periodontal disease, dental implants should be placed and recommended by a professional.
Periodontal Pocket Reduction
This procedure involves removing the bacteria infected tissue and reduce the depth of the pocket that has been created by periodontal disease. This procedure is sometimes recommended when the pockets are too deep to be effectively cleaned out. Reducing the depth of the pocket can help treat the disease and also provide other options for future treatments.
Periodontists are highly trained to treat complex dental cases and gum disease in patients. Not all periodontist are created equal and some are more likely to recommend invasive procedures or less likely get on board with trying advanced technology as a therapy.
Finding a periodontist in Fort Lauderdale that you can trust starts at Florida Smiles Dental
Most people who are treated by periodontists were not aware of how severe their gum disease are. When experiencing redness and swelling in the gums begins, one should visit a dentist to evaluate if they could benefit from an appointment with a periodontist.
Symptoms may be hard to detect and even easier to overlook. However, while the pain and swelling may not always be there, for those that neglect their oral health the pockets could be deepening and the infection spreading.
Choosing to seek out a periodontist near you before the stages of gum disease fully progress is an important step in improving the overall health and well-being of a patient. Receding gums and painful sensations make a patient feel less confident and can also have an impact on the foods they choose to eat.
Correctly labeling how daily life is impacted by unnoticed gum disease is a difficult process. Many patients are unaware how their oral health played a role in exacerbating other health issues. After treatment with a periodontist, patients are often able to see where their oral health had been taking way from their life.
Florida Smiles Dental is happy to answer your questions and help you determine if you need to see a periodontist.
The staff at Florida Dental Smiles in both our Lighthouse Pointe and Fort Lauderdale locations are dedicated to helping patients improve their oral health and feel confident and comfortable while they do it. To learn more about the on staff periodontist and how they can help you prevent and treat gum disease, visit them online or call their location nearest to you.