You may know that gum disease is a serious problem that afflicts nearly half of the adults in the United States and a periodontist is the dental professional to treat it. However, it is important to remember that he or she can also treat a wide variety of other problems through cosmetic dental procedures. Common examples include lengthening the dental crown, grafting gum tissue to cover exposed roots and a procedure known as ridge augmentation, which is commonly used to fix indentations in the gum or jawbone. Those procedures can improve your dental health and physical appearance.
#1- Lengthening the Dental Crown
If you have ever felt that your smile was a bit too "gummy" or your teeth are not big enough, the problem could easily be that there is too much gum tissue at the top of one or more teeth. Gum contouring is often recommended in order to make the smile look better or to create a more even gum line. It is fairly simple to remove excess gum tissue and, if necessary, part of the tooth by extending your dental crown with gum contouring.
Although usually a cosmetic procedure, it can also be necessary for improved dental health. In addition to occasionally being performed in conjunction with lengthening the dental crown as mentioned previously, it can also be required due to the need to reduce open pockets between teeth that frequently occur with severe gum disease and as the first step of regenerative dental procedures, like dental implants. In addition, some patients need it because the crown has tissue that has grown over it and dental complications become more likely.
#2- Gum Grafting
Gum grafting is a common treatment for tissue that normally surrounds and protects the teeth that have begun to pull away from the tooth, eventually exposing the tooth or its roots and causing damage to the underlying bone as well as pain and tooth loss. It is not unusual and is thought to affect up to 12% of adults.
The solution is to undergo a gum tissue graft. It can be done in three ways, but most often is done by removing skin from the roof of your mouth and then sewn into the damaged gum tissue that is causing the problem. Therefore, the damaged area is covered and then all areas are sewn up.
#3- Ridge Augmentation
Ridge augmentation is common when the natural curve of your gums and jaws has been changed due to missing teeth, dental decay, etc. A complaint that many people have had about false teeth, including dental implants, is that the artificial tooth looks fake when placed onto damaged gums. Another is that missing teeth have actually allowed the jaw to degrade, so that, without reconstructive work like the ridge augmentation, it would not be able to support artificial teeth.
In both cases, ridge augmentation is a good choice, since it allows the the artificial tooth to look more natural and reinforces the jaw so that, when healed, it is stronger. Your periodontist will lift the gum from the ridge, to access the defect. The open area is then filled with bone or bone substitute. In at least four and usually no more than twelve months, it will heal. You can then proceed with the dental replacement work.
In conclusion, a periodontist can perform many cosmetic dental procedures, in addition to treating gum disease. Although classified as cosmetic procedures, it is helpful to note that they may be necessary to correct real dental problems. If you have questions, consider contacting a local periodontist, such as Cumberland Periodontal Associate, to discuss your concerns.