You’re brushing your teeth and notice a bit of pinkness on the brush or you see a bit of red when you floss. While many people brush off mild gum bleeding, it can be an early sign of gum disease and should be seen or treated by a dentist. Even if you think your mouth looks and feels healthy, you may have gum disease and not know it. That’s why it’s important to see a dental specialist, such as a periodontist, from time to time. A periodontist will examine your mouth, review your medical history and make an appropriate treatment recommendation.
What Is a Periodontist?
You might want to think of a periodontist as a general dentist plus. Like the dentist you see for your semi-annual checkup, a periodontist has graduated from dental school. He or she then went on to train for an additional three years beyond basic dental school, in a periodontal residency or post-graduate program. During that residency or program, the dentist focuses on the treatment of gum or periodontal disease. Periodontology programs also train dentists in the placement of dental implants.
Dentist Recommends It
One of the main reasons why you would see a periodontist is if your family dentist recommended it. A general dentist can usually help you when you have a mild case of gum disease, such as gingivitis. But, more advanced cases require the skill and experience of a trained periodontist.
Often, your dentist will refer you to a specific periodontist, usually someone whose work he or she is familiar with. You aren’t limited to going to the periodontist, though, and may be free to choose someone else, if you’ve heard good things about one particular periodontist or practice from friends or relatives.
There are a number of reasons why your dentist may suggest you see a periodontist. It’s common practice for family dentists to refer patients who have certain chronic conditions to a specialist if there’s a possible link between the condition and gum disease. For example, if you have heart disease or diabetes, or are pregnant, your dentist may recommend you see a periodontist as a precaution. You don’t need to have any symptoms of gum disease at the moment.
Your dentist may also refer you to a periodontist if your gum disease meets certain criteria. For example, if you are under age 35, or have pockets that are deeper than 5mm, you’ll most likely get referred to a specialist. Your dentist should refer you to a periodontist if you have clear symptoms of an aggressive case of periodontal disease, considerable gum recession or if your current dentist doesn’t have the ability to treat you.
You’re Worried About Your Gums
You don’t need a referral to see a periodontist. If you are concerned about gum disease or if you think you have a more severe case of periodontal disease than your general dentist can treat, you can schedule an appointment with a periodontist to learn more.
Getting a Second Opinion
A periodontist can also give you a second opinion on the health of your gums. It’s possible for even the best of dentists to miss something while examining your teeth and gums. It’s also possible for your general dentist to think your periodontal disease is less severe than it is. If you believe you have gum disease that should be treated, a periodontist can give you a reliable second opinion.
If You Have a History of Gum Disease
Seeing a periodontist and getting treated isn’t a one and done deal. Even after you’ve had periodontal surgery or another effective treatment, you’ll want to see the periodontist for regular follow-up appointments. You can go back to your general dentist, but the periodontist who treated your gum disease will understand your condition best and will know how to best handle any complications that may arise or what to do if the disease recurs.
You Need an Implant
Part of the training to become a periodontist involves learning how to place implants. While advanced stages of periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss, a number of other factors can also cause it. For example, you might be hit in the mouth and have a tooth fall out, or you may have significant tooth decay. A dental implant can give you a natural, healthy looking smile, whether you’ve had gum disease or not.
If you live in the Miami area and want to see a periodontist to treat gum disease or to keep your mouth in good shape after gum disease treatment, contact periodontists Dr. John Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas. To schedule an appointment at their practice, call (305) 447-1447 today.