If you see your dentist for regular cleans but your gums still cause problems, it could be time to see a periodontist.
Dr Dang Tran from the Hills Periodontics and Implant Centre said that the most important part about gum disease is not actually the gum.
“It is the bone that supports the tooth that is the most important. Gums will swell and recede, but bone when lost is usually lost forever. Hence why early treatment is necessary,” he said.
”A normal clean usually removes the tartar/plaque from the tooth surface that is visible, but not the tartar that forms below the gum.
“This gives patients the wrong idea that their gum is in good condition because their teeth look clean, when in fact the tartar below the gum is causing damage.
“We actually call it debridement: where we are cleansing the root surface rather just cleaning the crowns as in their normal cleans.”
Dr Trans said a periodontist specialises in treating any ailments that has to do with the supporting structures of the teeth. They have the basic five-year dental training, as well as another three years specialised training, which starts at least two years after the first degree.
“Periodontists treat periodontitis (gum disease), peri-implantitis (gum disease of a dental implant), receding gums from brushing too hard with a toothbrush, pigmentation in the gingiva, pregnancy gingivitis or swellings, placing implants for missing teeth, sinus lifts, bone grafts, gum grafts, and periodontal surgery (gum surgery).
“Dentists usually refer cases that are too difficult for them, cases that haven't responded to their treatment or cases that they believe will have a better outcome under specialist care. Most patients are referred in, but a referral isn't necessary.”
While most periodontist have similar skill sets, Dr Tran said he aims to educate his patients so that they understand their condition.