Now that we have a periodontist, Dr. Cecilia Perera, working right alongside our other doctors here, our patients have asked us what it is that a periodontist (or “periodontic specialist”) does. Here is your answer.
The Periodontist’s Area of Specialization
A periodontist, in the simplest terms, is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease. A periodontist also specializes in the placement of dental implants. To further understand the function of a periodontist, though, it helps if we first break down the word itself.
“Perio” in dentistry refers to the health or disease status of the gums and bone around the teeth. Its root Greek word “peri” is defined as “around” or “near,” and the next word, “donta,” is a spin-off of the Greek word “odous” which means “tooth.” So the “periodontium” includes the jaw bone (tooth sockets), gums, and the ligaments that hold the teeth in place.
The periodontist, then, specializes in all of this important housing and structure for your beautiful teeth. This housing commonly gets infected and gets diseased. In fact, the majority of adults have a form of periodontal disease. This disease is usually painless and goes unnoticed in its early phases.
Dental Care and the Periodontist
Routine dental care includes more than a simple check and cleaning of your teeth. In addition to these functions, a dentist will look over your general health, your jaw joints and all of the parts that keep your teeth covered and in line.
Dr. Brayer and her associates keep a close eye on both the teeth and their support system, and they can identify early signs of periodontal disease and can easily refer a patient for a periodontal look-over. Our dentists have always worked closely with other dental specialists in the area, but never more than right now. Dr. Perera, who specializes in this disease and dental implants, works right alongside our staff, so our patients have the best in-house care possible.
Periodontist Training and Expertise
Periodontists receive extensive training in oral inflammation as well as the prevention and diagnosis of periodontal disease. They undergo an additional three years of education beyond dental school and have a strong familiarity with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease.
Periodontists are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures that will improve your smile, and they often treat more problematic periodontal cases, such as those with severe gum disease or a complex medical history.
Periodontists offer a wide range of treatments for a wide variety of periodontal issues, from mild gingivitis to more severe periodontal disease. These treatments can include scaling and root planing (in which the infected surface of the root is cleaned) or root surface debridement (in which damaged tissue is removed). They can also treat patients with severe gum problems using a range of surgical procedures. Also, periodontists are specially trained in the placement and repair of dental implants.
What Happens During a Periodontal Visit?
During the first visit, the periodontist usually reviews the patient’s complete medical and dental histories. It is extremely important for the periodontist to know if any medications are being taken or if the patient is being treated for any condition that can affect periodontal care, such as heart disease, diabetes or pregnancy.
The periodontist examines the gums, checks to see if there is any gum line recession, assesses how the teeth fit together when biting, and checks the teeth to see if any are loose. The periodontist will also take a small measuring instrument called a probe and place it between the teeth and gums to determine the depth of those spaces, known as periodontal pockets; this helps the periodontist assess the health of the gums. X-rays may also be taken to observe the health of the bone below the gum line.
What are some of the procedures Dr. Perera performs?
Due to Dr. Perera’s extensive training, she’s well suited to tackling a number of periodontal issues. Whether it’s conservative treatment or a surgical approach is needed, she can take care of whatever a patient’s needs may be, as surgical treatment may be needed in more severe cases of periodontal disease that do not respond adequately to non-surgical initial therapy.
Dr. Perera is prepared to perform the following procedures, and more, as needed:
- Placement of dental implants (to replace single teeth, multiple teeth, and full dentures, that click right in)
- Care and maintenance of dental implants
- Scaling and root planing of teeth (deep cleanings)
- Laser osseous surgery
- Gum grafting
- Crown Lengthening
- Some extractions
She will also discuss behavioral changes that can improve the overall outcome of periodontal treatment, and closely follow up to see the treatment through.
Some patients’ periodontal needs can be managed by Dr. Brayer, Dr. Nguyen, and Dr. Phane. However, as more and more patients are exhibiting signs of periodontal disease, coupled with research that suggests a relationship between periodontal disease and other chronic diseases of aging, periodontal treatment may necessitate a greater understanding and increased level of expertise by a trained specialist.
Patients in our practice who present with moderate or severe levels of periodontal disease (or patients with more complex cases) will be best managed by a partnership between the dentist and our periodontist, Dr. Perera.
About Dr. Perera
In 2004, Dr. Perera graduated from a dental school in Venezuela: Universidad Santa Maria. She lived in Tampa for several years, then completed her residency in periodontics at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, graduating in 2010. Dr. Perera then received her Masters of Science Degree from Case Western Reserve University. She then moved to Tampa and is currently working with the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and in private practice in the Tampa Bay area.
Dr. Perera became a Diplomate of the American Academy of Periodontology in 2011 and currently performs a variety of periodontal procedures including periodontal surgeries and implant placement.
Info was taken from interviewing Dr. Perera and from the American Academy of Perio website www.Perio.org