How we help preserve your gums and keep them healthy

What is a Periodontist ?

A periodontist is a dentist who specialises in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease (gum disease). They are experts in the treatment of inflammation in the tissues and bone surrounding the teeth. Periodontists undertake at least 3 years of advanced studies after graduating from dental school. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosis and treating periodontal disease and performing cosmetic periodontal procedures. In certain circumstances they are able to regenerate hard and soft tissues.

What are the causes of Periodontitis?

The causes of periodontal disease include family history, poor oral hygiene, bacterial dental plaque, diabetes and smoking. There is growing evidence linking periodontitis to diabetes, heart disease and other systemic disease. It is therefore important to treat periodontitis not just for oral health but general health.

Periodontal disease can lead to the loss of attachment of the gum, connecting tissues and bone to the teeth. Common periodontal conditions are gingivitis and periodontitis which are both caused by plaque or what is known as bacterial biofilm. Dental plaque is sticky colourless film that forms on the teeth and contains bacteria. Most periodontal disease is caused by the bacterial biofilm that collects around the teeth in the absence of effective oral hygiene and the way the body’s immune system reacts to it. Recent studies have shown how periodontal disease and systemic (general body) disease impact each other.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

Periodontitis affects 10-15 percent of the population and is inflammation which extends to form a pocket between the tooth and infected gums. The symptoms are swollen red or bleeding gums, over sensitive teeth or bad breath. Symptoms of advanced periodontitis may include abscesses, loose teeth and eventually tooth loss. Teeth can become loose and drift from their position. It can also lead to receding gums which exposes more of the root which can heighten sensitivity.

Gum disease is generally asymptomatic (silent). Early warning signs may be slight bleeding when you brush or floss, slight tenderness and inflammation of the gum margins, bad taste or breath.

When should you see a periodontist?

If your dentist has diagnosed periodontal disease or there is a problem with your gums then a referral to a periodontist would be advisable. The most common periodontal disease is periodontitis which is often painless until the later stages. If left untreated it can destroy the bone and tissue that surround the teeth. Your dentist may also refer you to replace lost gum tissue and crown lengthening to improve appearance.

What are the treatment options?

There are 2 types of advanced perio treatments

1) Non surgical treatment

This involves careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque from deep perio pockets. The majority of patients will require ongoing maintenance therapy to sustain optimum health. If this is unsuccessful then surgery may be needed to restore the perio anatomy damaged by the disease.

2) Periodontal surgery

When damaged tissue around the teeth cannot be repaired then surgery becomes necessary and can include:

  • pocket reduction.
  • Regenerative procedures to replace lost bone and tissue.
  • Crown lengthening lays the groundwork for restorative dentistry and to improve the aesthetics of your gum line.

About your periodontal consultation

Our periodontist will carefully examine your gums, tissues supporting your teeth and take radiographs if necessary. Every aspect of gum problem will be explained including diagnosis, prognosis and treatment planning.

Our periodontist Dr Jim Dufty has had many years of experience treating these conditions successfully. Jim has a realistic approach and will do whatever he can to save the natural dentition. This would include hard and soft tissue grafting where appropriate.

He takes referrals for perio and perio/ restorative patients and provides a full range of both non-surgical and surgical perio treatments. He is also involved with the placement of implants and the treatment of peri-implantitis. He has published internationally and continues to be involved with dental postgraduate education, working with King’s College London’s Prosthodontic MClinDent and Aesthetic Dentistry MSc distance learning programmes in both teaching and advisory roles.

Smoking and Gum Disease

We all know of the harmful effects that smoking tobacco has on our general health. In the mouth it can cause white patches and oral cancer. Over the past 20 years research has shown that smoking causes significant harm to the periodontal (gum) tissues.

Evidence shows that:
  • smokers have more severe gum disease than non-smokers and more loss of gum and bone support.
  • less response to periodontal treatment and likely reoccurrence of the disease
  • greater tooth loss

The good news is that people who stop smoking respond well to periodontal treatment as non-smokers. The appearance and health of the gums will improve with treatment only a few months after treatment.

Although quitting smoking is difficult, it is crucial to achieving great gum health and would encourage you to stop smoking as part of your periodontal therapy. Your GP practice may have stop smoking trained professionals. Alternatively help is available at tel 0800 0852219 or Stop smoking support increases the success of quitting by four times. This is further doubled by the use of nicotine replacement therapy.

Please feel free to ask for further advice about the effects of tobacco smoking or help in taking the first steps in quitting.