24 Mar Periodontics – Your Questions Answered by Dr Pauline Lautard
Posted by: Willow Tree Dental and Orthodontic Centre
Medically reviewed by: Dr Pauline Lautard BDS Hons (KCL), MFDS (RCS Ed), Perio MClinDent Hons (KCL), MPerio (RCS Eng) Specialist in Periodontics
Introducing Dr Pauline Lautard
Here at Willow Tree Dental and Orthodontic Centre, we are proud to introduce you to Dr Pauline Lautard, our Periodontics Specialist.
As a highly experienced and qualified dental professional, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease as well as expertise in the placement of dental implants and the treatment of oral inflammation.
Dr Lautard answers some of the top questions asked about periodontics and gives her expert advice on how to take care of your teeth and gums!
What is Periodontics?
Periodontics is a branch of dentistry focusing on the structures that surround and support the teeth. This includes gum tissue, connective tissue and bones that help keep your teeth in place.
A periodontist is a dentist who specialises in providing care for these supportive structures. They use many techniques to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases or other conditions associated with gums and supporting structures.
What is periodontal disease and what are the causes?
Periodontal disease, otherwise called gum disease, is inflammation of the gum.
At first, patients may suffer from gingivitis when the gums are swollen and bleed, but the teeth have not lost any bone support.
This is reversible with treatment and an improvement in oral hygiene routine at home.
In some patients however, this progresses to periodontitis.
In periodontitis, the inflammation results in loss of some of the bone which supports the teeth.
Unfortunately, this bone loss is mostly irreversible, and treatment is recommended to slow down the progression of the bone loss and reduce the risk of tooth loss.
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria found in the dental plaque. The risk of having periodontal disease is increased in smokers and diabetic patients. Some people are more likely to have gum disease due to genetics and it may run in their family.
How can I prevent periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria found in the dental plaque. This makes having an excellent oral hygiene routine at home the most important factor in prevention of gum disease. This is achieved not only by brushing with a manual or electric toothbrush twice a day, but also importantly by cleaning in between your teeth.
Gum disease does not commonly cause any pain or toothache so you might be unaware that you have gum disease until it becomes more advanced.
A dentist or hygienist can easily identify gum disease during an examination which makes attending for regular check-ups and hygiene visits key in prevention of gum disease.
Smoking increases both the severity of the gum disease and the speed at which the teeth lose their bone support. Patients who smoke get a poorer response to treatment and are more likely to have recurrence of the gum disease and to lose teeth. Stopping smoking is highly recommended. Vaping can be a helpful tool to stop smoking but should not become a new long-term habit since it is also associated with gum disease, alongside the other multiple complications it causes.
Patients who suffer from diabetes may also be at an increased risk of gum disease, especially if their blood sugar is poorly controlled. Diabetic patients are encouraged to attend their GP regularly to receive treatment to improve their blood sugar levels.
Finally, gum disease has been shown to be associated with stress, obesity, heart disease or poor diet. Having a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise and attendance with your medical practitioner to treat any underlying conditions may help to prevent gum disease.
What are the treatments for periodontal disease?
The treatment of periodontal disease starts with ensuring the patient’s oral hygiene routine at home is very efficient. Dental plaque is the cause of gum disease and treatment will not be effective unless our patients are very proficient at removing plaque, especially in between the teeth.
The first stage of treatment of gum disease is to have a deep clean under local anaesthetic. Plaque builds up on the root surfaces of the teeth, hardens into tartar, and causes loss of the bone supporting the teeth. A deep clean consists in numbing the teeth and gums to remove the build-up of tartar from the root surfaces of the teeth. This is usually provided over multiple visits.
Once the deep clean has been provided, we allow 3 months for the gums to heal and reassess the situation. Some patients may require a second course of deep cleaning.
Areas with more advanced gum disease may require in some cases more advanced treatment such as gum surgery.
Gum surgery is minimally invasive and is provided under local anaesthetic. It consists in making a small cut in the gum to access the areas with more severe disease, addressing the problem, before some stitches are placed.
Once the gums have improved, we put in place a maintenance program for each patient to allow the gums to remain stable.
This consists in regular visits with the hygienist, dentist and/or periodontist to provide professional cleaning. Without regular maintenance by a dental professional there is a high risk of the gum disease recurring.
This is an overview of the most common treatments, but each patient is different and other procedures may be required. We always provide an individualised specific treatment plan for each of our patients.
How To See A Periodontist at Willow Tree Dental
Ideally, we would recommend coming to see us for a dental checkup first. Our team of experts can provide an accurate assessment and further refer you to Dr Lautard for a periodontal consultation if needed.
Alternatively, if you have already been advised by your own dentist that you need to see a periodontist you can book a consultation directly.