Frequently Asked Questions

Will It Hurt?

We will be as gentle as possible. The periodontal exam can be completed with little or no discomfort.

Do I Need X-Rays?

We will need current periodontal x-rays in order to see disease not otherwise visible. If your referring dentist has taken x-rays, you may request that they be forwarded to us.

What Will It Cost?

Since all patients are different, your periodontist must complete your examination before establishing your treatment planning and the fee for care. The fee for periodontal treatment can vary considerably depending on the type of problems and the complexity and length of treatment. An approximate fee can usually be determined at the initial visit; but on occasion, some initial treatment or further diagnostics must be completed before the final treatment planning can be established. Our philosophy of practice is to treat as conservatively as possible to attain treatment goals.

Will My Insurance Cover The Cost?

Dental insurance policies often cover periodontal treatment. Please bring all medical and dental benefit information and cards to your examination appointment. Upon request, we will submit a claim to predetermine your insurance benefits; however, this is not required by most plans.

Will I Need Surgery?

Not everyone needs periodontal surgery. If treated early, gum disease can be controlled without surgery. We will make recommendations based on your individual situation. Our philosophy of practice is to treat as conservatively as possible to attain treatment goals.

Can My Teeth Be Saved?

The recent advances in periodontal treatment allow us to successfully treat most teeth.

When Will I Go Back To My General Dentist?

Our office and your dentist will work closely together. If crowns and fillings are needed your dentist will provide them. Regular visits to your dentist are an important part of periodontal maintenance.

What If I Don’t Have Gum Treatment?

Periodontal disease is a progressive, painless infection. Delay can cause you further bone loss and more expense. If your teeth are lost, dentures are never as effective as your own natural teeth.

Who Should See A Periodontist?

Some patients’ periodontal needs can be managed by the general dentist. However, as more and more patients are exhibiting signs of periodontal disease, coupled with research that suggests a relationship between periodontal disease and other chronic diseases of aging, periodontal treatment may necessitate a greater understanding and increased level of expertise by a trained specialist. Patients who present with moderate or severe levels of periodontal disease, or patients with more complex cases, will be best managed by a partnership between the dentist and periodontist. If you are missing teeth and are interested in replacing them with dental implants, your periodontist can certainly help. Periodontists place dental implants when natural teeth cannot be saved. They also monitor the implants to make sure that they’re properly doing their job. Periodontists may also correct gum recession and cover up exposed root surfaces, which can be unsightly as well as sensitive to hot, and cold. These procedures are often used to lay the foundation for additional cosmetic procedures to help create a beautiful smile. Finally, periodontists can be integral in the comprehensive planning of your oral care, along with your general dentist or other dental professional.

Is a topical antibiotic treatment necessary in conjunction to scaling and root planing?

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, topical antibiotic treatment may be used as an adjunct to scaling and root planing. Every person has different needs based on their particular situation, so be sure to talk to your dental professional about using these antibiotics as part of your course of treatment; he or she will determine if they are a good fit for you.

What is the difference between plaque and calculus?

Plaque is the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. Bacteria live in plaque and secrete acids that cause tooth decay and irritate gum tissue. This irritation causes an inflammatory reaction by your body that can eventually lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease. If plaque is not removed regularly by tooth brushing and flossing, it hardens to create calculus (also known as tartar). Calculus cannot be removed with a toothbrush; only a dental professional can remove it during an oral cleaning. To keep plaque and calculus under control, it is essential to brush your teeth twice every day, floss at least once every day, and see your dental professional for regular cleanings.

Can children be at risk for developing periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is rarely found in children, and only sometimes found in adolescents. However, children should still learn the importance of keeping their teeth and gums healthy to prevent periodontal disease in the future. Children should brush their teeth twice a day and learn how to floss properly- if children learn how to floss at an early age, they will be more likely to make it a lifetime habit. These two simple acts will help protect their teeth and gums from periodontal disease. As a parent, you should also be aware of the warning signs of periodontal disease, which include red, swollen, bleeding gums or bad breath that won’t go away. If your child develops any of these symptoms, tell your dental professional right away. It’s also a good idea to ensure your dental professional knows your complete family history, as genetics can play an important role in the early development of periodontal disease.

Other than diagnose and treat gum disease, what else have periodontists been trained to do?

Most periodontists spend the majority of their time diagnosing and treating gum disease, but there are a variety other procedures that they have been highly trained to perform. Periodontists place dental implants when natural teeth cannot be saved. They also monitor the implants to make sure that they’re properly doing their job. Periodontists may also correct gum recession and cover up exposed root surfaces, which can be unsightly as well as sensitive to hot, and cold. These procedures are often used to lay the foundation for additional cosmetic procedures to help create a beautiful smile. Finally, periodontists can be integral in the comprehensive planning of your oral care, along with your general dentist or other dental professional.

What are common signs and symptoms of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is often silent; meaning symptoms – particularly pain – may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. However, you should still be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms, which include:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or when eating certain foods
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures

If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to contact us right away!

What can I do at home to prevent periodontal disease?

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to take good care of your teeth and gums at home. This includes brushing your teeth after every meal and before bedtime, flossing at least once each day, and seeing your dentist or periodontist for regular exams twice a year. Spending a few minutes a day on preventative measures may save you the time and money of treating periodontal disease!

Both of my parents have periodontal disease, and I’m worried that it may be genetic. Is there a way to determine my risk for developing gum disease?

First of all, congratulations on being proactive about your health! Recent research has shown that genetics may be involved in a person’s risk for gum disease, but there are a variety of other factors that also play a role. The American Academy of Periodontology has an online risk assessment tool that you can use to determine your risk level for gum disease. The test only takes a few minutes to take, and you should discuss the results with your periodontist.

Who should treat my periodontal disease: my general dentist or a periodontist?

Instead of leaving your treatment to one dental professional, you should consider having both your general dentist and a periodontist be actively involved in the diagnosis and treatment of your periodontal disease. This team approach will help your general dentist (who is familiar with your dental and medical history) and your periodontist (who has extensive experience treating periodontal disease) collaborate to tailor a treatment plan that works best for your individual case.

I was recently diagnosed with periodontal disease. How often should I see my periodontist for an examination?

Regular examinations are very important to keep track of the present status of your disease and any disease progression over time. Your periodontist will work with you to create a maintenance schedule depending on how advanced your periodontal disease is at that time. Based on many variable factors such as your overall health, the severity of bone loss, and risk factors such as smoking and genetics, your periodontist will constantly tailor your care so your periodontal disease does not progress further. He or she may recommend exams every six months for mild periodontal disease, or every few months for more advanced stages.

Is periodontal disease contagious?

Research has shown that periodontal disease is caused by the inflammatory reaction to bacteria under the gums, so periodontal disease technically may not be contagious. However, the bacteria that cause the inflammatory reaction can be spread through saliva. This means that if one of your family members has periodontal disease, it’s a good idea to avoid contact with their saliva by not sharing eating utensils or oral health equipment. If you notice that your spouse or a family member has the warning signs of a possible periodontal problem (bleeding, red and swollen gums, or bad breath) you may want to suggest that they see the periodontist for an exam. It may help to protect the oral health of everyone in the family.

I have big gums and short teeth, so when I smile you can almost only see my gums. I don’t smile very often anymore because I am so self conscious of my gums. Is there a way to improve my smile?

Yes, there may be a way to enhance your smile. It’s a good idea to discuss your options with a periodontist first. He or she can explain the best way to create the smile you want, as well as answer any questions that you may have. For example, one procedure that can remove excess gum tissue is called crown lengthening. After the excess gum tissue is removed, the gum line is then reshaped in order to create the right proportion between gum tissue and tooth surface. Your general dentist and periodontist may also work together to coordinate additional treatments such as veneers or crowns. However, your periodontist and general dentist will recommend the best procedure to improve your smile.

What are the consequences of missing teeth?

There are actually several negative consequences of missing some or all of your teeth. First, missing teeth will affect the esthetics of your face. Not only will your smile be affected by the gaps from missing teeth, but if you’re missing too many teeth, the skin around your mouth won’t be supported properly and will start to sag, making your appear older than you are. Additionally, missing teeth will make it more difficult to chew your food properly and may even affect the way you speak. Finally, missing even one tooth may have emotional consequences; many people feel less confident about their smile when they are missing teeth. If you are currently missing any of your teeth, consider replacing them with dental implants, which can look and feel just like natural teeth.

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