Meet our Periodontist
Happy New Year everyone - we hope you had a happy holiday full of healthy smiles.
We’re back with a bang for 2022 with more interviews with our wonderful staff. Next up in the series is Dr Sajni Shah, our periodontist at Angle House Harrow.
What is a periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist that specialises in the management of diseases and conditions associated with the gums.
Why might I see a periodontist?
You might see a periodontist if you have gum disease, problems associated with dental implants, require management of gum recession or if there is a need to increase the amount of tooth on show above the gum line.
What is the difference between a dentist, hygienist and periodontist?
A dentist can assess, diagnose and manage diseases and conditions relating to the teeth and gums, for example dental decay and gum disease. However, he or she may wish to refer a patient to a specialist for more complex cases. It is important to see a general dentist regularly even if you are under the care of a specialist.
A hygienist predominantly has a role in preventing and treating gum disease. He or she may treat patients directly or under the prescription of a dentist. Hygienists are important for providing supportive care for patients with gum disease.
A periodontist is a dentist that has undergone additional training to become a gum specialist. Periodontists are experts in their field and have the skills to treat complex cases and offer advanced treatments such as gum surgery.
How can I keep my gums in good condition?
The most important aspect of the management of gum disease is good oral hygiene. You should brush your teeth twice a day and use interdental aids to remove plaque effectively.
How often should I visit the hygienist?
You will be advised on how often you should visit the hygienist. The recall intervals are specific to the individual and are often initially every 3 months. Depending on the condition of your gums, this may be increased to every 6-12 months, for example.
When should I make an appointment with a periodontist?
You can make an appointment to see a periodontist if you are concerned about your gum health or have been told by your dentist or hygienist that you have gum disease. Gum disease is usually asymptomatic, and many people are unaware that they have it. However, it can progress quickly, and if left untreated can result in tooth loss.
If you notice any of the following, you should seek advice as soon as possible:
- Bleeding gums
- Gum swellings
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
What should I expect during my appointment?
The initial appointment with a periodontist would be for a consultation. This includes the following:
- A detailed history, including questions about your health, dental history, and habits such as smoking and oral hygiene regimes
- A clinical examination to assess the hard and soft tissues.
- Various measurements of the gums will be carried out, and if required, X-rays will also be taken
- Photographs may be taken for baseline records and treatment planning
- Discussion of findings and management options
Following the consultation, you will receive a letter summarising the consultation and recommended treatment plan.
What kind of procedures does a periodontist perform?
Oral hygiene education, cleaning above and below the gums with local anaesthetic as necessary. This aims to prevent disease progression and tooth loss.
Surgical periodontal therapy
Pocket reduction surgeries, including access flap, resective and regenerative procedures. Following the initial therapy, there may be sites with residual disease. These surgeries are often indicated to prevent disease progression and facilitate cleaning.
Periodontal plastic surgery
This may be indicated to prevent or correct defects in the anatomy, position and/or amount of soft tissue and underlying bone support around teeth. This includes the management of gum recession.
This surgery aims to increase the amount of tooth on show above the gum line. It may be indicated for restorative or aesthetic areas - and could be appropriate for the management of a gummy smile.
Management of peri-implant diseases
The treatment of diseases of the tissues surrounding an implant to prevent loss of the dental implant.
What are the top three tips for keeping my gums healthy?
1. Maintain good oral hygiene
- Brush effectively twice a day and use interdental aids
2. Visit your general dentist regularly
- Dentists can identify early signs of gum disease and advise you on the most appropriate management
- Gum disease often presents silently with no pain, and if left untreated can result in tooth loss
3. Keep your body healthy
- Your general health and lifestyle habits, such as smoking, can significantly affect the health of your gums