A periodontist specialist focuses on the health of tissues and bone around the tooth, according to the California Society of Periodontists. All dentists learn the basics of gum cleanings, but your DDS may refer you to a periodontist if you need a deep cleaning or more serious gum treatment. You might also seek periodontists for cosmetic dentistry procedures.
Here are some reasons you might need a periodontist specialist:
Plaque Removal - Periodontists will scale and plane to remove dental plaque and smooth down your roots to prevent plaque from latching on again. (Dental plaque sticks to rough surfaces.) Your dentist periodontist might wield manual scraping tools or ultrasound devices.
Pocket Reduction - Gums should fit snugly around the base of your teeth. When they start to recede, they form pockets. When these get too deep, your gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis. Periodontists can treat this condition by folding back the gum tissue and removing the bacteria, plaque and calculus.
Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR) - Letting periodontal disease progress to bone loss may require more complicated dental treatments. With GTR, a dentist periodontist could insert a membrane in between the gum and eroded bone, which prevents the gum from growing into the empty space. This procedure allows your jaw bone a chance to grow back.
Gum Grafts - Have sensitive teeth? You might be showing your roots. Columbia University's College of Dental Medicine says some people naturally have thin gums - getting a gum graft may not necessarily be oral infection. Either way, periodontists employ three methods to fix your gum tissue's issues:
A free gingival graft lifts a strip of flesh from the roof lining of your mouth to sew onto your gum tissue.
More than likely though, your dentist periodontist will recommend a connective-tissue graft, in which connective tissue taken from under the roof lining of your mouth is removed to stitch onto the gum site.
A periodontist specialists might also opt for a pedicle graft - taking gum tissue from a more healthy gum site in your mouth and stitching it over a problem area. Not everyone will qualify for the pedicle treatment though, since recession in one area tends to mean recession in all areas of your mouth.
Tissue Recontouring - Some periodontists call this procedure recontouring or tooth crown lengthening. This is a fix for a "gummy" smile which occurs when too much gum or bone make your teeth look too small. The gummy smile might come from malocclusion (bad bite and jaw development) or problems in the way your teeth erupt from the gums. Diagnosis of the cause comes before a periodontist prescribes recontouring.
Dental Implants - You may need to see a periodontist specialist if you have missing teeth. These dentists can insert dental implants to hold the rest of your natural teeth in the right position and save you from holes in your smile.