Your first visit to Dr. Chapman's office promises to be a pleasant experience. Many times patients are relieved to find out that their periodontal health is better than they thought it was! Don't wait until it hurts. The sooner you begin to get your mouth healthier, the better! Gum disease frequently has no symtoms unless it is quite severe.
Making sound decisions about your dental care and oral health is an easy thing to do with the right preparation beforehand:
Make a list of questions to ask our office, so you don't forget anything on the day of your appointment. This includes any concerns you have, or oral problems you've been experiencing.
- If you have dental insurance, remember to bring your insurance card with you. Also, if your dentist has given you X-rays or a referral form, please bring them with you as well.
Periodontics is a dental specialty that involves the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues.
Who is a periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease and in the placement of dental implants. A periodontist typically has had two to three years of additional training in diagnosing and treating gum disease and its associated problems. Periodontists are experts in the most successful techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. Additionally, periodontists can perform cosmetic periodontal procedures to improve your smile. Often, dentists refer their patients to a periodontist when their periodontal disease is advanced.
During your first visit, Dr. Chapman will review your medical and dental history, as well as any medications you may be taking. This will be followed by:
- A complete oral and periodontal exam of your gums to check for gum bleeding and swelling, and gum recession; your jawbone, to help detect the breakdown of bone surrounding your teeth; and your teeth, to determine their proper alignment and if any are sensitive, loose and how they fit together when you bite.
- An assessment of the depth of the spaces, known as periodontal pockets, between your teeth.
- X-rays, to show the bone levels between your teeth to check for possible bone loss.
- Once the exam is completed, Dr. Chapman will in most cases immediately discuss with you his diagnosis and recommendations for treatment. He will answer your questions and you will have a thorough understanding of what your situation is and what needs to be done for optimal health.
Treatment choices include:
- Root Planing and Scaling, which is one of the most effective ways to treat gum disease when it is caught in its early stage, before it has progressed to significant bone loss. This is a thorough cleaning and removal of the disease -causing deposits on your teeth called tartar and is done by a dental hygienist.
- Pocket Reduction Treatment (PRT) is without a doubt the most successful and time tested treatment for moderate and advanced cases of periodontal disease available today! PRT is so effective because it involves the complete removal of tartar and the recontouring of the bone that supports the teeth to bring it back to the healthy shape that it is supposed to have. Pocket Reduction Treatment is very beneficial when pockets are 5mm or greater. With PRT the diseased pockets are very predictably reduced by 50%! This allows your toothbrush to keep the now healthy pockets clean and leads to long term periodontal health!
- Bone Grafting/Bone Regeneration is a very valuable procedure done at the same time as Pocket Reduction Treatment where Dr. Chapman places a special material into indentations in the bone caused by periodontal disease that commonly occur next to teeth. Bone grafting helps to re-build some of the bone that supports the teeth.
- Soft Tissue Grafts including: Connective Tissue Grafts which help to cover up the exposed root surfaces of teeth and can be a cosmetic problem as well as cause sensitivity; Free Gingival Grafts, which move healthy gum tissue from one part of the mouth to another, and Pedical Grafts, which shift gums to cover areas where healthy tissue is needed.
- Implants are the most natural, most functional, best looking replacements for lost teeth that dentistry has today! Think of an implant as a man-made tooth root that your dentist places a crown (cap) on. Alternatives include a bridge where your dentist drills down on the teeth next to a space and the bridge is glued onto those teeth replacing the lost tooth in between. This can lead to tooth decay (cavities) on those teeth, and can also put too much pressure on those teeth in some cases leading to additional tooth loss. Another option is a partial denture, an appliance that you take out at night and put back in in the morning. Many patients find that partials are cumbersome and difficult to chew with, not to mention unsightly.
- Ridge Preservation is done to help decrease the natural loss of bone that will occur after a tooth has been extracted. This is commonly done in an area where an implant is to be placed.
- Ridge Augmentation may be recommended if the bone where an implant is to be placed is too narrow and needs to be widened.
- Crown lengthening is the lowering of the gum around a tooth, most often done so that your dentist can gain access to a cavity or fracture below where the gumline was.
- Cosmetic surgery is done to help reveal a beautiful smile where patients have too much gum tissue covering their teeth giving the appearance of very small teeth. This is a simple procedure that can have a dramatic effect on a persons smile!
- Frenectomy is another easy procedure where excess gum tissue is removed from between the upper two front teeth that may be causing a spece to exist. This is usually requested by an orthodontist who is trying to straighten teeth and close gaps between them.
- Fiberotomy is the easiest of all procedures again done at the request of an orthodontist to assist in the long term maintenance of straighter teeth.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is caused by a variety of things; in medical terms, cavities are called caries, which are caused by long-term destructive forces acting on tooth structures such as enamel and the tooth's inner dentin material.
These destructive forces include frequent exposure to foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Soda, candy, ice cream—even milk—are common culprits. Left inside your mouth from non-brushing and flossing, these materials break down quickly, allowing bacteria to do their dirty work in the form of a harmful, colorless sticky substance called plaque.
The plaque works in concert with leftover food particles in your mouth to form harmful acids that destroy enamel and other tooth structures.
If cavities aren't treated early enough, they can lead to more serious problems requiring treatments such as root canal therapy.
The best defense against cavities is good oral hygiene, including brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing and rinsing. Your body's own saliva is also an excellent cavity fighter, because it contains special chemicals that rinse away many harmful materials. Chewing a good sugarless gum will stimulate saliva production between brushing.
Special sealants and varnishes can also be applied to stave off cavities from forming.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have a cavity:
- Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold water or foods.
- A localized pain in your tooth or near the gum line.
- Teeth that change color.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby's mouth.
If left untreated, this can lead to premature decay of your baby's future primary teeth, which can later hamper the proper formation of permanent teeth.
One of the best ways to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is to not allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going to sleep. Encouraging your toddler to drink from a cup as early as possible will also help stave off the problems associated with baby bottle tooth decay.