What is a Periodontist and When Should You See One?

by Rana Baroudi

Dr. Baroudi is a Board Certified Periodontist. She has successfully passed the American Board of Periodontology oral and written examinations covering all phases of periodontal disease, its treatment and dental implants. She is also an Associate Clinical Professor of Periodontology at UCSF where she enjoys teaching and lecturing on a bi-monthly basis.

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Dental health, being a multifaceted domain, includes various specialists addressing distinct dental concerns. Among them, the periodontist often remains an enigma to many. To clear the haze, let’s dive into the world of periodontics to understand the significance of these experts and recognize when it might be time to knock on their door.

Demystifying the Profession: Who is a Periodontist?

In the vast spectrum of dental care, a periodontist specializes in handling periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease. Additionally, they are the go-to experts for dental implant procedures.

These professionals don’t just stop at the basic dental degree. After securing that, they commit to another three years of rigorous training specifically focused on periodontics. This ensures they’re well-versed in the state-of-the-art techniques for both diagnosing and managing periodontal ailments, along with cosmetic periodontal treatments.

Periodontal Disease: The Silent Affliction

Before delving further into the world of periodontists, it’s essential to spotlight the principal condition they tackle: periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is often a silent affliction, beginning without discomfort but escalating if unaddressed. It’s more than just a dental health issue; it’s a pervasive problem that can impact your overall health. Research has shown connections between periodontal disease and a host of health concerns, such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory ailments.

A Glimpse into a Periodontist’s Toolkit

  1. Scaling and Root Planing: Think of this as a deep-cleaning session for your gums. It removes tartar build-up from the gum line and smoothens the tooth root, which aids in reducing bacteria and facilitating gum reattachment to the teeth.
  2. Gum Graft Surgery: For severely receded gums, a graft might be the answer. This involves transplanting gum tissue from one part of the mouth to the affected site, safeguarding the exposed tooth root.
  3. Dental Implant Installation: For those grappling with missing teeth, dental implants offer a robust solution. Periodontists expertly place these into the jawbone, ensuring they anchor replacement teeth firmly.
  4. Pocket Reduction Procedures: Bacteria-filled pockets forming between teeth and gums can spell trouble. To combat this, periodontists can clean these infection zones and secure the gum tissue, minimizing the space.
  5. Bone Grafts: When gum disease attacks the jawbone, bone grafting can be the hero. This entails the use of your bone fragments, artificial bone, or donated bone to substitute bone eroded by gum disease.

From Gingivitis to Periodontitis: The Progression

Gum disease manifests in stages, starting from the milder, reversible condition called gingivitis. This initial phase is characterized by swollen, red gums that might bleed during brushing. If left untreated, it evolves into the more severe form, periodontitis. At this juncture, the damage becomes pronounced, involving the bone that supports the tooth. Deep-set bacterial pockets form, and without professional intervention, tooth loss is imminent.

Signs It’s Time for a Periodontist Appointment

  1. Persistent Gum Bleeding: Occasional bleeding might be dismissed, but if your gums consistently bleed during brushing or flossing, it’s cause for concern.
  2. Gum Retreat: If your teeth seem to ‘grow’ longer due to gum withdrawal, it’s a classic indication of gum recession, often linked to periodontal disease.
  3. Wobbly Teeth: Adult teeth should stand firm. Any mobility can hint at potential damage to foundational structures.
  4. Unending Bad Breath: If bad breath refuses to leave even after thorough oral care, it might be signaling an underlying issue.
  5. Discomfort or Pain: Experiencing pain while eating or a continuous unease around the gums? It’s time for a check.
  6. Dental Implant Consideration: Those exploring the dental implant avenue should definitely consult a periodontist.
  7. A Past with Gum Disease: Previous encounters with gum disease or a familial trend suggests you might benefit from periodic visits to a periodontist.
  8. Pre-existing Health Conditions: If you’re battling conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis, or are pregnant, being proactive about periodontal health is crucial due to the established correlation between these conditions and gum disease.

Why Regular Dentists Might Not Suffice

While general dentists can handle preliminary gum disease stages, the specialized expertise of a periodontist becomes essential as the condition advances. Their detailed knowledge allows them to discern subtleties, recommend advanced treatments, and even employ surgical interventions when necessary.

Understanding the Risk Factors

Several factors can predispose an individual to gum disease. While poor oral hygiene tops the list, other elements, such as smoking, hormonal fluctuations in women, certain medications, ill-fitting dental restorations, and genetic susceptibility, also play pivotal roles.

The Periodontist-Patient Relationship: A Team Effort

Effective treatment isn’t just about the clinical expertise of a periodontist. It’s also about the rapport they share with their patients. Constructive dialogues, understanding patient history, and tailoring treatments to individual needs are paramount. This personalized approach aids in not only addressing the present condition but also in planning preventive strategies for the future.

Dr Rana Baroudi: San Jose’s Premier Periodontist

In the heart of San Jose, CA, Dr. Rana Baroudi stands out as a beacon of excellence in periodontal care. With a reputation built over years of dedicated service, Dr. Baroudi isn’t just known for her clinical expertise but also for her patient-centric approach. Patients vouch for her compassionate demeanor, thorough explanations, and tailored treatment strategies. Whether you’re grappling with an advanced stage of periodontal disease or seeking an expert for dental implant procedures, Dr. Baroudi’s clinic is where precision meets empathy. Her dedication to continuous learning ensures that she employs the latest techniques and technologies, making her the top recommendation for periodontal care in San Jose.

The Role of Technology in Periodontics

The landscape of periodontal treatments has transformed with technology’s advent. Tools like digital X-rays, laser treatments, and advanced imaging offer more accurate diagnoses and less invasive treatment options. Periodontists are now better equipped to pinpoint issues and employ precision-based strategies, minimizing discomfort and enhancing recovery rates.

Conclusion: A Call to Periodontal Awareness

Gum health remains an often-neglected facet of dental care. Yet, its implications stretch beyond the confines of the oral cavity. Entrusting your periodontal care to experts like periodontists, and specifically to renowned professionals like Dr. Rana Baroudi, ensures that you’re not only getting the best care but also investing in the broader spectrum of your health.