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Periodontal FAQs

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.

What 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 we call tartar.

Plaque will continue to build up over the tartar, and eventually cause 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

Periodontal disease, if left untreated, can contribute 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, a 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 and floss regularly, have health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or osteoporosis, or if several of your family members have had gum disease because it can, in some cases, be genetic. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease, schedule an appointment with Dr. Jude, 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 get the most out of any dental treatment you receive. We will help you work with your insurance provider to make sure your treatment is easy on your budget, and your peace of mind.

Why do I need periodontal maintenance rather than just a “prophy” or a cleaning?

We are often asked if we can downgrade a periodontal maintenance to an adult prophy for insurance reasons. The answer is no, we cannot. 

Periodontal disease is:

  • Chronic
  • Non-curable
  • Manageable

A state of inactive periodontal disease can be achieved with proper homecare and proper periodontal care, but the effects of the disease and the risk of re-emergence will always be present. If you have ever had periodontal disease at any time of your life, you are by definition from the American Academy of Periodontology at increased risk of tooth loss due to periodontal disease for the rest of your life.

We are required by law and by written agreement with insurance companies to report procedures honestly; doing otherwise can be regarded as insurance fraud. Insurance fraud comes with severe legal penalties and can lead to the dentist actually going to jail.

Adult prophylaxis includes:

  • Scaling and/or polishing of the dental crown only
  • Does not include cleaning the roots

Periodontal maintenance is:

  • For patients who have previously been treated for periodontal disease and is for life
  • Includes removal of supra (above) and subgingival (below the gumline) microbial flora (plaque) and calculus (dental tartar)
  • Includes site specific scaling and root planing where indicated and/or polishing the teeth

A periodontal maintenance requires more work from a hygienist. If you have had periodontal disease, chances are you have root surfaces exposed. Periodontal maintenance includes cleaning those roots. An adult prophylaxis does not include cleaning the exposed roots.

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Tumwater, WA 98501
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