WHY A PERIODONIST?
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the soft tissues of the mouth and the underlying jawbone which supports the teeth. A dentist must first graduate from an accredited dental school before undertaking an additional three years of study within a periodontology residency training program, in order to qualify as a periodontist.
The primary focus of this residency training is on surgical and non-surgical management of periodontal disease and the placement of dental implants.
The most common conditions treated by the periodontist are:
• Gingivitis- inflammation of the gums
• Mild to advanced Periodontitis – pockets between teeth and soft tissue that can result in bone loss and shifting or loss of teeth
• Missing teeth as a result of bone loss
If your dentist or hygienist finds symptoms of gingivitis or rapidly progressing periodontal disease, a consultation with an periodontist may be recommended. However, a referral is not necessary for a periodontic consultation.
If you experience any of these symptoms, a periodontic consultation is important without delay:
Bleeding while eating or brushing
Persistent bad breath
Loose teeth & gum recession
Related health conditions – heart disease, diabetes, osteopenia and osteoporosis
Before initiating dental treatment, Dr. Whitney will extensively examine the gums, jawbone and the general dental health. Once an accurate diagnosis has been made, he will review all treatment options with you along with their associated risks and benefits.
Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth and provide a fixed solution to removable partial or complete dentures. Implants provide excellent support and stability for these dental appliances.
Dental implants are artificial roots and teeth (usually titanium) that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone. The teeth attached to implants are very natural looking and often enhance or restore a patient’s smile!
Dental implants are very strong, stable, and durable, but on occasion, they will need to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear.
Reasons for dental implants:
Replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth
Restore a patient’s confident smile
Restore chewing, speech, and digestion
Restore or enhance facial tissues
Support a bridge or denture, making them more secure and comfortable
A gum graft (also known as a gingival graft or periodontal plastic surgery), is a surgical periodontal procedure that covers an exposed tooth root surface with grafted oral tissue.
Exposed tooth roots are usually the result of gingival recession due to periodontal disease. There are other common causes, including overly aggressive brushing and trauma.
Common types of gum grafting are:
Free gingival graft is used to thicken gum tissue. A layer of tissue is removed from the palate and relocated to the area affected by gum recession. Both sites will quickly heal without permanent damage.
Subepithelial connective tissue graft is used to cover exposed roots. Tissue is removed from the palate and relocated to the site of gum recession.
Acellular dermal matrix allograft uses medically processed human tissue as a source for the graft.
Crown lengthening is generally performed in order to improve the health of the gum tissue, or to prepare the mouth for restorative or cosmetic procedures. In addition, crown lengthening procedures can also be used to correct a “gummy” smile, where teeth are covered with excess gum tissue. Crown lengthening exposes more of the natural tooth by reshaping or re-contouring bone and gum tissue. This treatment can be performed on a single tooth, many teeth or the entire gum line, to expose a pleasant, aesthetically pleasing smile.
Crown lengthening, versatile procedure for:
Restoration of damaged teeth (broken beneath the gum line) used to prepare the area for a new restoration
Cosmetic uses – Removing excess gum tissue can restore a healthy look and improve the aesthetic appearance of the smile
Dental crowns – provides more space between the supporting jawbone and crown
Humans have two upper (maxillary) canines and two lower (mandibular) canines. Canine teeth have thicker and more conical roots than incisors and thus have an especially firm connection to the jaw. Canine teeth often have the longest root of all teeth and are the last to fully erupt and fall into place; around age 13.
An impacted tooth means that it is unable to fully erupt and function properly. Impacted canines are critical to the bite and require treatment for the following reasons:
Closing gaps – the last teeth to move into place, canines close gaps in upper teeth.
First Touch – Canines play a vital role in the “biting” mechanism of the teeth. They touch first when the jaw closes, guiding the other teeth into position.
Proper Alignment & Function – Canine teeth are essential to the correct alignment and function of the other teeth on the dental arch.
Pocket reduction surgery (gingivectomy, osseous surgery, flap surgery) is a term for a series of surgeries to gain access to the roots of the teeth to remove bacteria and tartar.
The human mouth contains dozens of different bacteria at any given time. The bacteria found in plaque (the sticky substance on teeth) produce acids that lead to demineralization of the tooth surface, and ultimately contribute to periodontal disease.
Periodontal infections cause a chronic inflammatory response that destroys bone and gum tissues in the subgingival area (below the gum line). Gum pockets form and deepen between the gums and teeth as the tissue continues to be destroyed.
Pocket reduction surgery is used to:
Reduced bacterial spread
Halt bone loss
Facilitate home care
There are many regenerative dental procedures to restore health to the gums, bone and teeth. The following are the most commonly used regenerative procedures:
Bone Regeneration – Dental implants and other restorative procedures depend on the jawbone being sufficiently strong and thick. With periodontal disease the jawbone may have become too thin to successfully support an implant. Natural bone regeneration (or bone grafting) is one of the best ways to promote growth and thicken the jawbone.
Bone grafting material is obtained from elsewhere on the body or from a bone bank.
Gum Tissue Regeneration – When gum tissue has been lost as a result of periodontal disease, the smile may appear discolored, toothy or unpleasant. A gum graft contours the gum line, covers exposed roots and restores healthy gums. A small strip of tissue is removed from the roof of the mouth and placed where required. The soft tissue surrounding the teeth will naturally regenerate for a healthy smile.
Scaling & root planing removes etiologic agents which cause inflammation to the gingival (gum) tissue and surrounding bone. Common etiologic agents removed by this conventional periodontal therapy include dental plaque and tartar (calculus).
These non-surgical procedures which completely cleanse the periodontium, work very effectively for individuals suffering from gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) and moderate/severe periodontal disease.
Preventative reasons for scaling & planing:
Disease prevention – The bacteria that causes periodontal infections can travel via the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Research has linked lung infections and heart disease to periodontal bacteria.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root attached to the jaw bone. Eventually, a replacement tooth or bridge will be firmly fixed to this root, restoring complete function to the tooth. The key to a successful and long-lasting implant is the quality and quantity of jawbone to which the implant will be attached. If bone has been lost due to injury or periodontal disease, a sinus augmentation can raise the sinus floor for new bone formation.
In the most common sinus augmentation technique, a tiny incision is made near the upper premolar or molar region to expose the jawbone. A small opening is cut into the bone and the membrane lining the sinus on the other side of the opening is gently pushed upward. The underlying space is filled with bone graft material and the incision is closed. The bone which is used for this procedure may be from your own body, a cadaver or synthetic materials which can stimulate bone formation. Sinus augmentation increases the success of dental implant procedures.