What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dental professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease, also referred to as gum disease. A periodontist focuses on the areas of the mouth surrounding the teeth, including the gums, bones, and connective tissues.
What is Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)?
Periodontal disease is caused by the buildup of plaque, the sticky, bacteria-filled film that forms on teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause deterioration of the gum tissue and bone, which can lead to receding gums and tooth loss.
Systematic Affects of Periodontal Disease
- Atherosclerosis and heart disease: Gum disease may increase the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease. It also is believed to worsen existing heart disease.
- Stroke: Gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke that is caused by blocked arteries.
- Premature births: A woman who has gum disease during pregnancy may be more likely to deliver her baby too early. The infant may be more likely to be of low birth weight.
- Diabetes: Diabetic patients with periodontal disease may have more trouble controlling their blood sugar than diabetic patients with healthy gums.
- Respiratory disease: Bacteria involved in gum disease may cause lung infections or worsen existing lung conditions. This is particularly important for elderly adults in institutions such as nursing homes. In this group, bacteria from the mouth may reach the lungs and may cause severe pneumonia.
When diagnosing Gum Disease, the signs of gum disease we look for include:
- Red, inflamed gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- Presence of pus between the gum and tooth
- Prolonged bad breath
Because the symptoms are initially mild, many people don’t realize they may have gum disease. You may have an increased risk for gum disease if you smoke, have diabetes, take certain medications, endure excessive stress, or don’t eat properly.