Why should you see a periodontist?

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Why should you see a periodontist?
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By Dr. Karl Smith

Almost 50% of the population older than 30 has some form of periodontal disease. This increases to 70% by age 65. If you are 35-years-old or older and have never had a periodontal evaluation, you should schedule an appointment today. It might just save your life!

Periodontal disease is an often silent and painless disease of the gums and bone in the mouth. Periodontists are dentists who prevent, diagnose and treat gum disease. The signs and symptoms of periodontal disease include:

• Receding – shrinking or rising – gums;

• Changes in your bite or the way your teeth fit together when you bite or chew;

• Bad breath;

• Loose teeth and/or tooth loss;

• Red, swollen and bleeding gums; and

• Painful chewing.

What else do periodontists do?

Most periodontists spend the majority of their time treating gum disease with highly advanced therapies. Periodontists also can place dental implants when natural teeth cannot be saved and monitor these implants to make sure they work. Periodontists may also correct gum recession and cover up exposed roots, which can be unsightly and cause a sensitivity to hot and cold sensations. Periodontal procedures are often used to lay a strong foundation for cosmetic procedures. Their goal is for you to protect your teeth, keep them healthy for life and contribute to your overall wellness.

What are the consequences of missing teeth?

Missing teeth will affect the aesthetics of your face. Not only will your smile be affected by the gaps from missing teeth, but if you’re missing too many teeth, the skin around your mouth won’t be supported properly and will start to sag, making you appear older than you are. Missing teeth will also make it more difficult to chew your food properly and may even affect the way you speak. If you are currently missing any of your teeth, consider replacing them with dental implants, which can look and feel natural.

What can I do to prevent periodontal disease?

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to take good care of your teeth and gums at home. This includes brushing your teeth after every meal and before bedtime, flossing at least once each day and seeing your dentist or periodontist for regular exams twice a year. Spending a few minutes a day on preventative measures may save you the time and money of treating periodontal disease.

What happens at my first visit?

During your first visit, the periodontist will review your complete medical and dental history. It is extremely important that you share all of the medications that you are taking or if you’re being treated for any condition that can affect your periodontal care, such as heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy or lupus.

Your periodontist will examine your gums, and check to see if there is any gum or bone loss, assess how your teeth fit together when biting and will check to see if any of your teeth are loose. He or she will also use a host of diagnostic tools to evaluate the stability and foundation of your gums and teeth. X-rays are generally taken to observe the health of the bone below the gum line. This is usually a simple and painless process that can give the periodontist a great amount of data to ensure overall dental health and wellness.

Many patients seek a comprehensive periodontal evaluation for peace of mind over their dental wellness. If you have any dental concerns, a periodontist can be a great place to start!

The writer is a periodontist with more than 30 years of experience with offices in Alexandria and Waldorf, Maryland.

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