Frequently Asked Questions about periodontics
What is periodontics?
Periodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. It focuses on the study and treatment of the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth and jaw.
Who is a periodontist?
A periodontist is a dental specialist who has the training and experience required by the American Dental Association to diagnose, treat, and prevent different forms of periodontal/gum disease.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, often begins as a buildup of plaque on the tooth’s surface near the gum line. If this plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing regularly, it can harden into what your dentist calls tartar. Plaque will continue to build up over the tartar, eventually causing the gums to become red, swollen, and irritated. This is known as gingivitis and is the first stage of periodontal disease. If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease.
What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?
- Red, swollen, sore gums
- Gums that bleed when brushing and flossing
- Teeth that appear longer or become loose
- Large spaces that form between the teeth
- Gums that begin to pull away from the teeth
- Chronic bad breath
If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to other health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. If you’re pregnant, having periodontal disease is also linked to premature birth or low birth weight. Your smile’s health affects the overall health of your body.
Is periodontal disease treatable?
Gum disease is both preventable and treatable. Today’s periodontal treatments provide you with a variety of options that are gentle, safe, and effective. If you have been diagnosed with gingivitis or gum disease, your periodontist can help you determine what treatment best meets your needs. Periodontal treatments include:
- Non-surgical treatment
- Periodontal surgery
- Periodontal therapy
- Dental implants
- At-home care (special toothpaste, mouthwash, toothbrushes, and prescription treatment trays)
Am I at risk of having periodontal disease?
You may be at risk of having periodontal disease if you smoke or use tobacco products, do not brush your teeth or floss regularly, have health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or osteoporosis, or if several of your family members have had gum disease: it can, in some cases, be genetic. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease, schedule an appointment with your dentist, who can help determine if treatment is necessary.
Will my insurance cover my periodontal treatment?
Many insurance plans will provide assistance for periodontal treatment. Our practice understands how important your dental health is, and we want you to receive the most out of any dental treatment you undergo. We will help you work with your insurance provider to make sure your treatment is easy on your budget as well as your peace of mind.
Post Operative Instructions After Gum Surgery
BLEEDING: Slight oozing for the first several hours after surgery is normal. If bleeding is excessive, apply direct pressure with a wet gauze directly over the site of bleeding for 5 full minutes. If this does not work, try a moistened tea bag over the site for 5 full minutes. If the bleeding is not controlled by the above measures, please call the office.
RINSING: Avoid vigorous rinsing for the first 24 hours following surgery. Cold water held in the mouth during the first 12-24 hours may help reduce slight bleeding. After 24 hours you should start warm (not hot) salt water rinses (1/2 tsp. salt in a tall glass of water) 3-4 times per day for the first week after surgery. In some cases a chlorhexidine rinse is prescribed, use as directed. This rinse is normally used for 4-6 weeks after surgery.
EATING: Maintaining adequate fluid intake during the first 12-24 hours is important to avoid dehydration. In addition, adequate amounts of nourishing foods are essential for proper healing. In general, extremely hot foods should be avoided during the first 12-24 hours, and hard foods and highly seasoned foods should be avoided during the first week. However, eat whatever you can tolerate, but be careful not to disturb the surgical site.
SWELLING: Some swelling is normal, and an ice pack held on the cheek or lip over the surgical site for intermittent periods (10-20 minutes on and 10-20 minutes off) during the first 24-48 hours may help reduce swelling and will relieve some discomfort. For any residual swelling after the first 48 hours, heat is encouraged (hot water bottle, heating pad, etc.) to increase circulation and promote healing. If the swelling becomes progressively more severe after 2-3 day, please let us know.
ORAL HYGIENE: Continue thorough plaque removal techniques in the areas where you have access. Gentle cleaning can continue in the surgical areas. However, you must be careful not to disrupt healing areas.
MEDICATIONS: Take medications as instructed. Generally, medications should not be taken on an empty stomach. IMPORTANT: Driving or operating dangerous equipment while taking narcotics (pain medication) can be very dangerous. Also, you should not consume alcohol while taking narcotics.
SMOKING AND EXERCISE: Avoid excessive exertion or exercise for the next 24 hours. Also, if you can’t quit completely, you should at least refrain from smoking for the first 24-48 hours to avoid interfering with the healing process.
GENERAL: If there is persistent bleeding, severe discomfort that cannot be relieved, extensive swelling, or any other problem that does not appear to be normal, please do not hesitate to contact us at 630-338-1652.
Special Care Following a Gum Transplant
- Sutures will be placed to stabilize the gum transplant; some of these may dissolve before you return to see us. Please do not attempt to remove them as it may decrease the success of the gum transplant. Also please avoid lifting your lip to look at the surgical site as this can create tension on the sutures causing them to come out prematurely.
- A dressing may be placed to aid in stabilizing the gum transplant. It may be clear plastic or white gauze. Do not attempt to remove this as it may dislodge the sutures. If it comes off on its own and you do not experience increased discomfort or bleeding it does not need to be replaced.
- The gum transplant site may ooze blood. This is normal. Do not attempt to apply pressure to the gum transplant site as you may dislodge the gum transplant. It is very important that you limit speech the first 1-2 days.
- The area where the gum transplant was taken (the palate or adjacent tooth) may cause you the most problem. It may appear or feel ulcerated. Do not be concerned as this is normal during the healing. The roughness may be the sutures, which are placed to speech the healing.
- The most common problem associated with palate is bleeding. The slightest trauma during eating, etc., may start bleeding. Using damp gauze or damp tea bags, apply firm pressure. Apply this pressure for a minimum of 15 minutes. Always remove all large loose cots before applying pressure. This type of bleeding may occur from time to time after the surgery.
- The palate will be much more comfortable and heal more rapidly if you avoid salty, spicy and acidic foods. Poor healing will result if you don’t maintain proper nutrition. Please eat soft and liquid foods the first few days.
- Smoking affects the circulation to the gum transplant and may cause the gum transplant to fail. It is very important, therefore, that you cut back of preferably stop smoking during the healing phase.
- You may experience swelling and bruising your face following your root coverage gum transplant. Using ice pack on the surgical side of your face during the first 24 hours following your gum transplant, sleeping with your head elevated and being extraordinarily careful with the area to prevent additional bleeding will all help decrease the amount of swelling you experience. Following these instructions will improve the success of your gum transplant.
- If you have any problems or questions, don’t hesitate to call us at the office (630) 338-1652.