Why do I have to alternate my maintenance between my general dentist and a periodontist?

The primary job of a periodontist is to monitor the health of your gums and assess your homecare to evaluate control of gum disease. Your general dentist is, in a sense, a specialist in detecting cavities and restoring diseased teeth. He or she will pay special attention to your restorative needs.

What kinds of things can I do to prevent gum disease?

First and foremost, if you are a smoker, quit! Studies have shown that smoking does numerous things that increases your risk for gum disease and tooth loss. Uncontrolled diabetes will also put you at significant risk for gum disease and tooth loss. Coming in for regular maintenance and taking good care of your teeth at home are of significant benefit.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. Your gums may be swollen, reddened, and bleed when brushed or flossed. The difference between this and periodontal disease is that no bone has been lost around the teeth yet.

What is periodontal disease?

In periodontal disease, the gums can be swollen, inflammed, and bleeding like in gingivitis, but bone loss has started around the teeth. Untreated, the teeth can start to loosen, and eventually be lost.

What is guided tissue regeneration?

Guided tissue regeneration is restoring structures that may have been lost due to disease. There are several ways to accomplish this. It is the preferred method of treating periodontal disease, but it is not possible in every case.

What is crown lengthening?

Crown lengthening is simply making a tooth longer, so the crown will fit properly and the gums remain healthy. The top of the tooth is referred to as a crown, so making it longer is crown lengthening. This may be done to enhance your smile, or to allow a dentist to restore a tooth that has broken off or has a very deep cavity. Please refer to the case picture section for an example of a crown lengthening done to improve esthetics.

What is a dental implant, and how does it work?

A dental implant is a titanium root replacement that is placed into the bone. A healing phase follows, and during that time, the bone tightly "bonds" to the implant securing it in place. Following the healing phase, your restorative dentist can place a tooth on top of the dental implant which now acts as a titanium root. In some select instances, the implant can be placed at the time of the extraction to shorten the treatment time. Please refer to the case picture section for a before and after photo of a single tooth restored with implants.

What benefits does an implant offer as opposed to a bridge?

A bridge is essentially two teeth that are holding an artificial one between them. These two teeth have crowns (caps) on them to hold the artificial one in place. If you get a cavity on one of them, you need to replace the whole bridge. In addition, all bridgework will eventually need to be replaced. A dental implant does not require placing crowns on teeth that do not even need them. If the crown on the implant needs to be replaced for some reason, you are simply replacing one, not three, as you would with a bridge. There are several other benefits that can be specific to the case. Ask your dentist how they can benefit you.

Can implants help my denture fit better?

Yes they can. People with dentures gradually have the bone under the denture or plate shrink with time. Implants can serve two purposes in this situation: The first being that they can secure the denture allowing for a snug fit. The second purpose is to prevent additional bone shrinkage or loss. In a sense, your teeth told the bone that it was supposed to be there. When the teeth were lost, the bone lost it’s purpose. Implants can “remind” your bone that it’s supposed to be there. If you have a poorly fitting denture, you can often get back to very near the function you had when you had teeth. Please refer to the image in the case pictures for a before an after photo of a case like this, complete with X-rays. Cases like this are very rewarding for the patients as well as the doctor involved.

If you have any other questions, please refer to the contact page. We look forward to hearing from you.