Dental Tips Blog


How Is a Periodontist Different from a Regular Dentist?

Posted in Periodontics

All periodontists go to dental school. Afterwards, they return for a few more years of study with a focus on the gum and bone tissues. The word “periodont-” literally means “around tooth.” So, a periodontist is someone who treats the structures around teeth.

Here are some of the differences between general dentists and periodontists.

What Dentists Treat That Periodontists Don’t

General dentists tend to treat just the teeth themselves. They aim to prevent decay, repair cavities, and rebuild teeth into a functional and beautiful smile. Some procedures done by dentists that you won’t likely find in a periodontist’s office include:

  • Fillings
  • Root canals
  • Dental crowns
  • Fluoride and sealants
  • Teeth whitening

What Periodontists Do That Dentists Don’t

When you visit a periodontist, you’ll have your gum health assessed via x-rays and an examination. Most likely, you’d be there because your gums need specialized treatment, cleaning, or reconstruction.

Some periodontal procedures include:

  • Deep cleaning for severe periodontitis
  • Gum surgery
  • Gum and bone grafting
  • Implant placement

Many dentists don’t place dental implants. They may restore an implant after it’s in, fitting it for a crown, bridge, or denture and so on. But the task of placing the actual screw in the bone under the gums is often referred out to a periodontist.

Even if your gums are in great shape, you may go see a periodontist for an implant if your local dentist doesn’t place them.

Do You Need to See a Periodontist?

Talk with your dentist about a referral to a periodontist. If you feel that your gums are showing signs of disease such as bleeding, recession, loose teeth, and bad breath, then you can feel free to contact a local periodontist yourself for an appointment.

Posted on behalf of:
Springfield Lorton Dental Group
5419-C Backlick Rd
Springfield, VA 22151
(703) 256-8554


What to Expect with Gum Surgery

Posted in Gum Disease

Having surgery on your gums may sound a little scary. But it won’t be as bad as you’re expecting!

You may need gum surgery for any of several reasons:

  • To graft new gum tissue in place
  • Scaling and root planing for teeth affected by gum disease
  • Make teeth look longer and more even
  • Treatment for tissue regeneration

Who Performs the Surgery? 

A periodontist (gum specialist) usually performs the procedure. Some oral surgeons also perform gum surgery, such as placing grafts. A general dentist can treat your teeth and perform basic gum therapy, but you need to see a specialist when it comes to gum surgery. 

Is Gum Surgery Painful?

Gum surgery is over very quickly and you’ll be numb the entire time, so you won’t have to feel anything. Once the anesthetic wears off, you may feel some discomfort. Most patients say that gum surgery on the roof of their mouth is the most uncomfortable. It’s said to feel like a burn from eating hot pizza.

Your recovery doesn’t have to be very painful. Taking over the counter pain relievers as your gum surgeon directs and sticking to a diet of cool soft foods will help you stay comfortable.

Does It Take Long to Heal?

Oral tissues heal faster than most others in the body. If you have stitches, they usually come out within a week after the surgery. Even if it takes as long as two weeks to heal completely, you can get back into your normal routine within a day of the procedure.

Contact a periodontist or dentist in your area to learn more about what’s involved in gum surgery and whether it’s right for you.

Posted on behalf of:
Springfield Lorton Dental Group
5419-C Backlick Rd
Springfield, VA 22151
(703) 256-8554


Reasons to Consider Laser Gingival Recontouring

Posted in Laser Dentistry

Gingival recontouring is the procedure that involves adjusting the margin of the gum tissue along the teeth. It can be done with soft tissue lasers, taking only a few minutes, and eliminating the healing time that is needed when it is performed with traditional surgical methods. In fact, laser periodontal therapy generally has no discomfort whatsoever, and the results are instant! Here are 3 benefits that you might want to think about when taking gum recontouring into consideration:

Gummy smiles.

When you smile, do you see more gum tissue than teeth? Gummy smiles can make some people not want to smile at all, because they are paranoid of how their smile looks. Adjusting the margin of the gums allows more tooth surface to be seen. Sometimes excess tissue may grow due to medications that are taken, and laser recontouring is an effective way to control that overgrowth. 

Teeth that appear short, or uneven.

If too much gum tissue covers the teeth, then the teeth appear shorter than they really are. Irregular margins of the gum tissue can make teeth look different sizes than they other ones next to them, or generally shorter overall. Adjusting the margin of the gumline helps create a uniform appearance across the mouth, and teeth that are sized appropriately. 

Little tooth exposure when treatments are needed.

Sometimes treatments like crowns need to be completed, but there is not enough tooth structure exposed for the crown to be cemented onto. By reducing the gumline around these teeth and lengthening the amount of crown visible above the gums, teeth can be restored much easier and stay healthier around their new restorations.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Virginia Kirkland, North Point Periodontics



Gum Grafting

Posted in Gum Disease

Do you suffer from gum recession, or areas of increased tooth sensitivity? If your gums do not cover your teeth adequately, it can leave a portion of your tooth exposed that isn’t meant to be. This area is called dentin, and dentin is typically covered by the gums and tooth enamel. When dentin is exposed, it can place the tooth at an increased risk for gum disease and tooth sensitivity.

Recession is typically caused by:

  • Abrasive toothbrushing
  • Tobacco use
  • Gum disease
  • Crowded teeth
  • Overzealous orthodontic treatments

Because dentin is porous, it makes the tooth very sensitive to what is on the outside. Simple cool drinks may send shocking jolts through straight to the nerve. While sensitivity toothpaste can help alleviate some of the problems with sensitivity, they do not protect the structural stability of the tooth which as been lost. If recession progresses severely, it can lead to tooth loss and replacement of the missing teeth with dental implants, a bridge, or dentures.

Unfortunately, receded gums do not repair themselves. Gum grafting allows patients to have these severe recession areas covered with new gum tissue, protecting the tooth surface as well as improving the stability of the tooth. This is especially important for patients that have localized areas of severe gum disease and are at risk of losing the tooth.

To perform gingival grafting, a piece of donor tissue is taken from another site in the patient’s body (such as the roof of the mouth), or from a tissue bank. The tissue is then placed within a small pocket just under the patient’s natural gumline, and blanketed around the tooth into the desired position. Depending on the type of graft needed, it may or may not require sutures or dressings during the healing period.

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