When to See a Periodontist

Referrals from General Dentists and Self Referral

You can seek treatment from a periodontist in a few ways. Your general dentist or hygienist may refer you to a periodontist if they notice signs of gum disease during a regular check-up. However, you don't always need a referral to see a periodontist.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to make an appointment with a periodontist:

  1. Bleeding while eating or brushing: This can indicate a gum infection.
  2. Persistent bad breath: Even with good oral hygiene, bad breath may be a sign of gum disease.
  3. Loose teeth and receding gums: These may be signs of gum and bone loss.
  4. Tissue gangrene: A periodontist can check for this condition in the gums, bone, and ligaments.
  5. Related health conditions: Conditions like heart disease, diabetes, osteopenia, and osteoporosis are connected to gum disease, and a periodontal infection can affect the entire body.

If you notice any of these signs, schedule an appointment with a periodontist to get a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The periodontist begins by thoroughly examining the gums, jawbone, and overall tooth condition before starting any dental treatment. If gingivitis or periodontal disease is diagnosed, the periodontist offers surgical and non-surgical treatment options to address the infection, prevent further gum recession, and restore or replace missing teeth.

For mild cases of gingivitis or periodontal disease with gum pockets deeper than 4mm, scaling and root planing are performed to remove debris and promote healing. The periodontist also provides education and advice on maintaining proper oral hygiene.

Moderate periodontal disease, characterized by gum pockets ranging from 4-6mm, may require a more extensive scaling and root planing procedure, usually done with local anesthesia.

Advanced periodontal disease is identified by gum pockets exceeding 6-7mm, along with bone loss and gum recession. Initially, scaling and root planing are performed as non-surgical treatment. Surgical procedures may be recommended by the periodontist to reduce pocket depth.

In cases where tooth loss has occurred due to periodontal disease, dental implants are an effective solution if the jawbone can support them. However, if the bone has eroded significantly, the periodontist may perform bone grafts to provide a suitable foundation for the new tooth/teeth.

Ask your periodontist if you have questions about periodontal disease, periodontal treatment or dental implants.

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