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When to Get a Periodontal Evaluation

A healthy smile requires strong and healthy gums, but unfortunately, periodontal disease or gum disease is all too common. It is caused by a bacterial infection affecting the gums and other structures surrounding your teeth. The infection causes inflammation which in turn can gradually destroy these structures. Without the proper treatment, periodontal disease can frequently lead to tooth loss.

What’s even worse is that it can affect your general health. This is why there are an increasing interest and concern into the links between poor dental health and poor general health. By looking after your gums, you can enjoy all the benefits of having a healthy smile. Hopefully, you will increase your chances of having reasonable general health.

Why See a Periodontist for a Periodontal Evaluation?

A periodontal evaluation could save your teeth and gums and may help to protect your general health. It can be carried out by a periodontist who is a dentist specializing in preventing, diagnosing and treating any dental conditions.

They should specialize in diseases affecting the soft and hard tissues that surround your teeth. This includes your gums and the connective tissues that help to hold your teeth in their sockets, and it also includes your jawbone.

In order to qualify as a periodontist, it’s necessary for a dentist to spend several years completing advanced training after first qualifying as a general dentist. This does mean a periodontist is able to carry out the very latest and very best techniques.

He/she should be able to treat diseased gums, place dental implants and they can carry out cosmetic gum surgery to enhance your smile. A periodontist is far better qualified to evaluate the general health of your gums than a general dentist.

When to Think About Having a Periodontal Evaluation

It’s quite possible that your general dentist may recommend you see a highly qualified and experienced periodontist. Only if they happen to find signs of advanced periodontal disease during the course of a regular checkup.

 However, you do not need to see a general dentist to get this referral. You can easily contact a periodontist directly to make an appointment for a periodontal evaluation.

This could be an excellent idea if you happen to have signs or symptoms that could indicate the presence of periodontal disease. These symptoms include:

•    Gums that bleed when you eat or particularly when you brush or floss. Bleeding gums are one of the most common signs of periodontal disease.

•    Persistent halitosis or bad breath is another sign that something is wrong with your dental health. This could well indicate an infection such as periodontal disease and does require investigation.

•    Noticing your teeth have become loose or shifted position as the destruction of gum tissue and the bone surrounding your teeth can lead to tooth movement.

•    Receding gums are another common symptom and you might have noticed your teeth look longer than you remember due to gum recession.

A thorough periodontal evaluation will quickly determine if you have periodontal disease and if so how best to treat it.

What to Expect during a Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation

During your periodontal evaluation, you can expect your teeth and gums to be thoroughly assessed. Your periodontist will be looking at the condition of your teeth and the amount of plaque in your mouth (this is a sticky layer of bacteria that builds up on the surfaces of your teeth). They will also be looking at the condition of your gums, the way your teeth bite together or occlude and the structure of your jawbone.

Your periodontist will want to know about any possible risk factors that could affect your dental health. This includes any systemic diseases and general health conditions that could impact your oral health.

The reason why it’s so important to know about your general health is because periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease. It can be affected by other chronic inflammatory conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, and diabetes.

It’s vital to treat the inflammation causing periodontal disease as soon as possible to help protect your general health. It’s likely your periodontist will need to take dental x-rays and even a CT scan to take a closer look at your teeth, gums, and jawbone. They will very carefully probe the gums surrounding your teeth. They will be testing for any areas where the gums have pulled away from the teeth and have caused periodontal pockets.

The depth of any periodontal pockets is measured and recorded. These areas of concern can be closely monitored to assess the efficacy of any treatment required. The depth of these periodontal pockets is a good indication of how periodontal disease is either progressing or being controlled.

If you do have deep periodontal pockets, then with the correct treatment these pockets should begin to shrink. As your gums become healthier and stronger they will gradually begin to fit more tightly around your teeth.

What to Expect after a Periodontal Evaluation

Once your comprehensive periodontal evaluation is complete, your periodontist will take a close look at all the information gathered. This is to assess the degree of any periodontal disease.

They can then suggest the most suitable treatments to hopefully restore gum health. It’s worth knowing that chronic periodontal disease is likely to require ongoing treatment. It may be impossible to completely eradicate the infection.

Instead, treatment will concentrate on removing as much of the infection as possible. The good news is that a periodontist will be able to provide many different treatments to help you, including nonsurgical and surgical options.

Often treatment will begin with a nonsurgical procedure called scaling and root planning that can be highly effective at deep cleaning gums. This will remove many of the bacteria causing the infection.

This may be a stand-alone treatment or could form part of a more comprehensive treatment plan to tackle your periodontal disease and to bring it under control. Other treatments include laser dentistry which can be extremely good for treating infected areas.

It’s also good for removing badly damaged tissues in a way that is incredibly precise and with minimal side-effects. A good periodontist will also be able to provide highly advanced treatments to restore and replace lost tissues, including gum and bone.

The important thing is to make sure you do, is follow your treatment plan. You will also need to attend all follow-up appointments for assessments, or for ongoing treatment.

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