Myths & Facts / FAQ

Myths & Facts

Periodontists are only needed for the more complex and challenging gum disease and implant cases.

A periodontist is able to recognize the differences between simple cases and complex cases and has the skill necessary to provide the proper treatment for either. When a case is challenging, periodontists know how to properly manage the periodontal aspects of patient care from start to finish.

My family dentist says he/she can provide periodontal treatment for me.

That is true. All general dentists are trained and should be capable of performing periodontal therapy for patients who present with mild/early forms of periodontal disease. A periodontist, however, specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease, as well as dental implant placement. All periodontists are general dentists, but they have also received 3 years of additional training after dental school to obtain the necessary education to perform procedures in periodontics. For patients who are diagnosed with moderate and advanced forms of periodontal disease (whether localized or generalized forms), treatment by a periodontal specialist is indicated. The value of seeing a periodontal specialist is that he/she can co-ordinate with the general dentist and provide the best approach for the patient under a TEAM APPROACH to oral heatlh care.

My dentist says he can place my dental implant and that my case is simple.

There is no such thing as simple surgery.
  Periodontal and dental implant surgery of any form is a complex, advanced dental procedure that should never be taken lightly. Periodontists are surgical dental specialists who have completed extensive surgical training in dental surgery from an American Dental Association accredited 3-year postgraduate residency program.

It is more expensive to see a periodontist for management of my gum problems and/or placement of my implant compared to my general dentist.

Perhaps, but the treatment is not the same.
 While the treatment performed by a periodontist may be more expensive than a general dentist, it is worth the cost. By seeing a board certified periodontal specialist (i.e. Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology), you are guaranteeing yourself that you are receiving the highest standard of care by an expert in the field. A board certified periodontist has received extensive formal education specific towards diagnosing, treating, and preventing periodontal disease. He/She also has the ability to place dental implants as well as manage other surgical aspects related to implant dentistry.

The dental implant procedure is very painful.

When performed by a highly trained and skilled implant surgeon, dental implant placement can be one of the least painful dental experiences. Periodontists are specialists in one of two American Dental Associated accredited surgical specialties of dentistry and have the necessary advanced surgical training to provide state of art care.

Children aren’t at risk for developing gum disease and therefore do not need to see a periodontist.

While approximately only 1% of children develop gum disease, it is a possibility. It is important to seek periodontal care at the earliest signs of periodontitis to help prevent it from progressing. Periodontists can help determine the risk of developing a more significant problem if a child has signs/symptoms of periodontal disease. They can assist your general dentist by developing a collaborative treatment plan for the long-term management of the patient, minimizing the potential for tooth loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information, please visit the American Academy of Periodontology.

What is a periodontist? Do i need to see one?
A periodontist specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of periodontal disease, as well as dental implant placement. Periodontists have completed 4 years of dental school and have received an additional 3 years of training to obtain the necessary education to perform procedures in periodontics. Your general dentist may refer you to a periodontist if you exhibit the symptoms of gum disease or need a dental implant; however, you may schedule an appointment on your own if you have concerns about your oral health.

What is periodontal disease, and am i at risk of developing it?
The term “periodontal” simply means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth. Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease often is attributed to the bacteria in dental plaque, which cause the gums to become inflamed and infected. Other factors, such as smoking or tobacco use, poor nutrition, stress or pregnancy, may put you at risk of developing gum disease.

Is periodontal disease contagious?
Although it is not an airborne disease, research has indicated that the bacteria that cause gum disease can be passed through saliva. Therefore, families and couples who may be in close contact with a person with gum disease are also at risk. We recommend being screened for periodontal disease regularly if you are potentially at risk, particularly if you have a family history of periodontal disease or tooth loss.

My gums bleed when i brush my teeth. Is this normal?
Healthy gums should not bleed when you brush your teeth. This is one of the early signs of gum disease. You should schedule an appointment with your periodontist for a complete periodontal screening.

Are there ways to prevent periodontal disease?
A good oral hygiene regimen is imperative in preventing periodontal disease. Proper brushing and flossing, in conjunction with regular dental visits for professional cleaning twice a year, will help keep your smile healthy for life. If you have periodontal disease that is treated, research clearly demonstrates that professional cleanings should be performed every 3 months to maintain disease stability.

Are dental implants the best restoration option?
Your periodontists at Periodontal Medicine and Surgical Specialists, LTD can determine if dental implants are the best restoration option for your individual case. Dental implants have a natural look and feel and can help prevent shifting of surrounding teeth. Implants are often preferred to bridges and dentures because they are more secure.

If i have periodontal disease, do i need surgery? What are my options?
Whether you need surgery or not will depend on how advanced your periodontal disease is. There are non-surgical treatments, such as root scaling and planing available, for those with mild gum disease. If you are in the advanced stages of gum disease, you may benefit from having surgery. With the latest technology and advanced techniques available today, many surgical procedures can be performed in an office setting with little discomfort.

What is maintenance therapy?
Maintenance therapy is used to help prevent further infection from occurring in patients who have already received periodontal treatment. Periodontal Medicine and Surgical Specialists, LTD will tailor a program to fit your needs, which will include periodontal checkups, plaque and tartar removal and sometimes polishing your teeth or checking your bite. The frequency of visits varies from case to case from every few weeks to four times per year.

I have a “gummy” smile. What can be done to correct this?
A procedure called esthetic crown enhancement can correct “gummy” smiles. “Gummy” smiles make teeth appear too short because either the gum &/or supporting bone did not passively repositon lower around the tooth after its eruption into the mouth. With esthetic crown enhancement, the gums and supporting tissues are reshaped/repositioned to expose the natural length & form of the tooth.

My gums are receding and my teeth appear “long.” Can this be fixed?
If left untreated, gum recession can lead to tooth loss. Soft tissue grafts can fix this condition and also prevent further recession or bone loss. In the procedure, gum tissue is taken from your palate or another donor source. This tissue is then placed over the exposed roots, which helps to even out the gum line and reduce sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.