It is especially important to see a periodontist if you experience any of the symptoms of periodontal disease, but regular periodontal examinations should be part of everyone’s routine oral health care regimen. An evaluation sometimes may be the only way to detect periodontal disease. You should also visit the periodontist regularly if you have diabetes, heart or respiratory disease, osteoporosis, malnutrition, or smoke or use tobacco; all dental lab supplies have been linked to periodontal disease.
Your first periodontal visit will consist of an evaluation. You will be asked about your dental/medical history. If you have medical problems, advise your periodontist, since many diseases can affect your mouth and gums.
You also should list any medicines you take, including oral contraceptives, because certain medications can adversely affect your gums or have contraindications for antibiotics. Antihypertensive medication can often cause xerostomia (dry mouth) that can accelerate decay and periodontal breakdown.
If you smoke, you will be advised to quit, particularly if you are undergoing gum surgery. Smoking, which increases the risk of periodontal disease, also worsens the disease if you already have it. It can also impair the healing process.
X-rays will be taken. A periapical X-ray – which reveals the entire tooth from crown (top) to the end of the root in your jaw – shows the amount and pattern of bone loss around each tooth. A panoramic radiograph – an X-ray by dental x ray machine portable of your entire mouth – shows other important skull structures, including the jaw joints.
Once the examination is complete, your periodontist will develop a treatment plan based on your individual wants and needs. Typically, following treatment you will be placed on a periodontal maintenance program.
In addition to a proper oral hygiene regimen of daily at-home brushing and flossing, this treatment plan will include regular follow-up examinations and cleanings, which are essential for the continued health of your mouth and gums. If you have gingivitis, many periodontists recommend visits every six months for a deep cleaning. For more serious conditions, see your periodontist every three months.
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