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When to See Our Aurora / Littleton Periodontists
A periodontist is a dentist specializing in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infections and diseases in the supporting tissues (bone and gums) of teeth and dental implants. Periodontists train an additional three years beyond the four years of regular dental school, and are familiar with the most advanced techniques necessary to treat periodontal disease and to replace missing teeth with dental implants. Our Aurora and Littleton periodontists also perform a vast range of cosmetic procedures to enhance the smile to its fullest extent.
begins when the toxins from bacteria found in plaque or tarter start to attack the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. As the infection progresses, it starts to burrow deeper into the tissue causing inflammation or irritation between the teeth and supporting bone and gums. The response is bone destruction, causing gum pockets to deepen or gum recessions to progress. The resulting pockets between the supporting tissue and teeth deepen and as a result, teeth can become unstable or be lost. Oral hygiene habits (brushing or flossing) can only reach the top few millimeters into the gum pockets, therefore, as pockets get deeper they also become less hygienic despite all efforts of the patient. Thus, even with perfect oral hygiene habits, the infections will continue to progress until treated by a dental professional.
Many times a therapy called “deep cleanings” or “periodontal root treatment therapy” or “scaling and root planing “ are an appropriate first line of treatment. This involves removing the bacterial plaque and tarter from the depth of the gum pockets and typically requires patients to be numbed for their comfort. This treatment is not meant to regenerate the lost bone support but instead to prevent progression of disease. Sometimes this treatment is effective in reducing the pockets to a maintainable level but many times in more severe cases additional therapies are required. General dentists and hygienists routinely perform these deep cleanings and will re-assess the gum healing several weeks later. If the disease is not controlled, then a periodontist will be involved with treatment.
Referrals From General Dentists and Self-Referrals
There are several ways treatment from a periodontist may be sought. As described above, if resolution of gum disease is not resolved after deep cleanings or if the general dentist or hygienist finds symptoms of periodontal disease during a regular hygiene visit, a consultation with a periodontist may be recommended. However, a referral is not necessary for a periodontal consultation. You may contact us at any time if you have questions or would like to schedule an initial consultation or appointment.
Signs You Should See a Periodontist in Aurora or Littleton, CO
Bleeding while eating or brushing
Unexplained bleeding while consuming food or during the course of daily cleaning is one of the most common signs of periodontal infection.
Continued halitosis (bad breath) which persists even when a rigorous oral hygiene program is in place, can be indicative of periodontitis, gingivitis, or the beginnings of an infection in the gum tissues.
Loose teeth and gum recession
Longer looking teeth can signal recession of the gums and bone loss due to periodontal disease. As this disease progresses and attacks the jawbone, the teeth may become loose or be lost.
Related health conditions
Research has found associations between gum disease and heart disease, stroke
, cancer, osteopenia, and osteoporosis. The bacterial infection from gum disease can cause inflammation that spreads through the blood stream and affect other parts of the body.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Before initiating any dental treatment, the periodontist must extensively examine the gums, jawbone, and general condition of the teeth. When gingivitis or periodontal disease is officially diagnosed, our Littleton / Aurora periodontists have a number of options available to treat the underlying infection, halt the recession of the soft tissue, and regenerate supporting tissues, or replace teeth which may be missing.
Gingivitis/Mild Periodontal Disease
When the gum pockets exceed 4mm in depth, the periodontist or hygienist may perform scaling and root planing to remove debris from the pockets and allow them the opportunity to heal. Education and advice will be provided for an effective dental cleaning regime.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
If the gum pockets reach 4-5mm in length a more extensive scaling and root planing might be required. This cleaning is usually performed when the teeth and gums are numbed (under local anesthetic) for the patient’s comfort.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
Gum pockets in excess of 5mm are usually accompanied by bone loss and gum recession. The periodontist may recommend non-surgical or surgical treatment to reduce pocket depth or regenerate the supporting bone. Each case is unique so we will discuss the best therapies for you.
Where one or several teeth are missing, dental implants
are a wonderful option for tooth replacement. If the bone is strong enough to provide a suitable anchor for the prosthetic tooth, the implant can be placed. However, if the bone has eroded, we may need to regenerate jawbone
to provide a suitable anchor for the new dental implant.
What If I Have an Infection of My Dental Implant?
Implants are (in most cases) the best option for replacing lost teeth. They do not get cavities (caries) and prevent the damage to adjacent teeth as seen with bridges and partial dentures. Unfortunately, they can have problems, including stress overload from grinding or can have gum disease called Peri-implantitis. As with natural teeth, there can be bone loss, recession, or inflammation around dental implants. Periodontists are the main dental professional who have the tools and skills needed to treat these ailing implants. Not all implants could or should be saved but we will give you guidance on what treatment will be best for those with this disease. Because we treat many of these cases, we also know what implants have had problems and which have worked out well. Thus, having the initial implant with us will lower the chances of needing your implant replaced or treated in the future.
Contact Periodontal Associates
Periodontal Associates in the Denver, Colorado area if you have questions about periodontal disease, periodontal treatment or dental implants. We have offices serving the Aurora and Littleton areas.
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Dr. Heller is the best! I continue to see him after gum surgery a year ago.
He is very good at what he does while having a casual 'all is good'...
Periodontal Associates is a great practice...I love my hygienist Michelle, as she is super thorough and takes the time to point out areas that might need...
My husband and I both recommend Dr. Heller and the team at Periodontal Associates. We have each had two rounds of gum grafts with excellent outcomes. The...
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