Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Our patients ask a number of questions about the various periodontal services that we offer. Here are a few of the ones we hear most often.

What is a periodontist?

Periodontists specialize in preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases and conditions that affect the surrounding structures of the teeth (periodontitis) and dental implants (peri-implantitis). They also perform cosmetic gum procedures and place dental implants. In addition to completing dental school, as all dentists do, periodontists pursue a post-graduate residency in the specialty that lasts up to three years. This additional education experience gives periodontists the opportunity to focus specifically on the numerous aspects of conditions that affect periodontal tissues (gum, bone and ligament) and dental implants.

Why do I need to see a periodontist?

If your general dentist notices signs of advanced gum disease, such as pockets in the gums or loosening of the teeth, or recession of the gumline, you may receive a referral to a periodontist. You may also initiate treatment with a periodontist yourself if you have concerns about symptoms like bleeding or sensitivity in the gums.

What causes periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is caused by oral bacteria, the kind that are found in plaque and tartar. Those bacteria cause inflammation in the gum tissue, which leads to the symptoms of periodontal disease.

Is periodontal disease genetic or contagious?

Research suggests that there may be a genetic component to periodontal disease and if you have a strong family history of the condition, you may be more susceptible to it yourself. While periodontal disease isn’t contagious in the same sense as, say, the common cold, people who have close contact, such as family members or romantic partners, may exchange the bacteria that cause the condition.

What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease occurs in stages, with each one becoming more progressive with serious symptoms. The mildest form, gingivitis, which can be reversed is marked by redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums. Deepening pockets between the teeth and the gums indicate slight to moderate periodontitis, and loosening of the teeth or severe bone loss suggest advanced chronic periodontitis.

If I have gum disease, will I need to have surgery?

Not necessarily. Unless your case is significantly advanced, your gum disease may be effectively addressed with non-invasive options, like scaling and root planning treatments.

What can I do to prevent a relapse of periodontal disease?

First and foremost, practice good oral hygiene habits at home. The more you do to reduce the bacteria in your mouth cuts your chances of another episode. Also be sure to follow up with your periodontist as directed.

I don’t like the way my gums look. Can anything be done to improve them?

Yes! Periodontists often perform procedures that are primarily cosmetic in nature, such as removing excess gum tissue. Periodontists can also perform gum grafts to replace missing gum tissue and even change the color of darker (hyper-pigmented) gum tissue.

Can a periodontist help me replace a missing tooth?

Periodontists have extensive experience in placing dental implants to replace a missing tooth. Dr. Karabin and Dr. Gottesman are respected experts in periodontal care and have presented to national and international audiences and published articles in prestigious journals. Both periodontists are also diplomates of the American Board of Periodontology, an honor accorded to fewer than one percent of American dentists. Both Dr. Gottesman and Dr. Karabin can help with placing dental implants to replacing a missing tooth.

Will my insurance pay for my treatment?

While our practice does not participate with insurance companies, you may be eligible for benefits for some procedures performed in our office. We would be happy to file a claim for reimbursement on your behalf.

Does periodontal treatment hurt?

In most cases, no. We use state-of-the-art instruments, such as lasers, in our practice, and in many cases, the procedures are minimally invasive, which also means minimal discomfort for the patient. Our patients also have various options for sedation to make the experience an even more comfortable one. The gum tissue may be somewhat tender after the procedure, but most patients are able to manage post-operative pain with over-the-counter medications.

What are periodontal pockets?

Periodontal pockets develop when inflamed gum tissue begins to pull away from the tooth at the gum line. When pockets are 5 mm deep or deeper, it indicates periodontal disease. A variety of procedures can be used to address periodontal pockets, depending on the depth of the pockets.

Should I be worried that my gums bleed when I brush my teeth?

Yes! Healthy gums do not bleed when the teeth are brushed. Bleeding gums, as well as those that are red and swollen, can be an indicator for early gum disease. If you?ve noticed bleeding while brushing your teeth, schedule an evaluation with a periodontist to determine what treatment may be beneficial for you.

Can I prevent gum disease?

Gum disease is a preventable condition. Patients can take a number of steps to reduce their risk, including brushing twice a day and flossing daily using the proper technique and maintaining a healthy diet with limited sweet treats. Patients can also cut their chances of gum disease by visiting the dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings and exams. Patients who have already experienced an episode of gum disease or those who have an increased risk due to genetic factors should be sure to work with a periodontist on a plan to prevent gum disease.

If you have any other questions or concerns about periodontal treatment, please feel free to contact our office. We would be happy to talk with you about any aspect of your care.