The word “periodontal” comes from the Greek for “around the teeth.” Specialists in the field of periodontics are interested in conditions which involve the underlying support structures for the teeth, including the alveolar bone and the gums. Periodontal disease and congenital malformations can lead to the loss of teeth in addition to extreme discomfort for the patient, and periodontal disease has also been linked with cardiovascular disease. The connection between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease is a cause for concern in many communities where people neglect their teeth due to the inability to afford dental care or out of fear of the dentist.
Prevention is a big focus in periodontics. By showing people how to avoid periodontal disease in the first place, specialists hope to avoid many of the complications associated with it. If disease cannot be prevented, early detection and prompt intervention is the next step. Interventions can include both surgical and nonsurgical techniques to manage and treat periodontal disease, including scaling to remove plaque, dental implants, and even regular tooth cleaning to remove plaque before it gets a chance to build up. In cases where patients have abnormalities, treatment options can include surgery and the use of orthodontic devices.
Bacterial plaque is a prominent area of focus in periodontics. Plaque builds up on the teeth over time, even in the most well-maintained mouth, and bacterial colonization of the teeth can lead to issues such as gum disease and infection of the underlying bones in the jaw. Developing ways to address plaque is a topic of interest in many research facilities, and patient education about the risks of plaque is an important part of a periodontics practice.
Periodontics is the dental specialty that studies supporting structures of teeth –gums, bone and ligaments–and the diseases and conditions that affect them. Periodontal diseases include gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), periodontitis, and gingival recession (gum recession). Untreated, these diseases lead to bone loss and tooth loss. In fact, periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and surgical and non-surgical treatment of periodontal disease.
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