I think I might have Periodontal Disease. Is there any way for me to know for sure
without visiting my dentist or a periodontist?
It's impossible to give you a set of criteria by which you can difinitively determine whether or not you suffer from Periodontal Disease, but the American Academy of Periodontology has a self-assessment tool that you can use to gain some insight into your risks.
What causes Periodontal Disease?
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to Periodontal Disease. For a discussion of some of these factors, the American Academy of Periodontology has provided some extensive discussion of the risk factors.
I have dental implants that I'm worried about since they haven't been checked in some time
Dental implants require regular maintenance just like teeth. If you have dental implants that are not being checked and maintained regularly by a dental professional, you need to see a periodontist. If your dental professional hasn't told you the condition of your implants, taken regular radiographs of them, or specifically cleaned them on a regular basis, you need a consultation with a periodontist.
Can dental implants fail?
Dental implants can develop to a condition very much like a periodontal disease, now referred to peri-implant disease, or peri-implantitis. It can lead to the loss of the implant and whatever it supports. Peri-implant disease requires rapid and aggressive treatment, and even then may not be successful. Still, many implants that are in peril or in actual trouble can be saved by aggressive action by a periodontist. If you have dental implants, see your periodontist to assess their health and to maintain them. If you think you might have an implant with a problem because of mobility, blood or pus around the implant, or pain related to the implant (many implants in trouble are never painful!), contact a periodontist immediately. A periodontist may be your only hope to keep your implant for the many years that it might potentially serve you.
With recent disclosures about sterilization and disinfection procedures, what precautions does your office take to ensure that there's no communication of contaminated material between patients??
We take the protection of our patients very seriously and work constantly to eliminate any risk of cross-contamination. To accomplish this we use a multi-pronged approach consistent with CDC guidelines for all instruments and equipment.
For all instruments which can withstand prolonged heat under pressure, including dental handpieces, we use either steam (autoclave) sterilization or chemical vapor (chemiclave) sterilization at high heat, under pressure. Each sterile pack has an indicator that clearly reports whether the contents of the package have been exposed to sterilizing conditions. Our sterilization area is set up to accommodate a unidirectional work-flow from contaminated to sterile. The processing provided by our sterilization equipment (autoclaves and chemiclaves) is verified weekly by a third party lab for complete kills of all bacteria and spores.
Rusted or damaged instruments are removed from our kits and are not re-used.
Our operatories (dental operating suites) are disinfected after each patient with the CDC-recommended procedure of a disinfectant spray, followed by a wipe, followed by a spray that is allowed to dry/evaporate in place. You may have noticed that our equipment may appear spotted when you arrive or that the paper tray covers may be out of place. This is because we allow the disinfectant to dry in place per best-practice guidelines between every patient. You may also notice that the safety glasses we provide you appear to be spotted or streaked. This isn't because they're dirty, it's because they've just been sprayed, wiped and sprayed again.
Any plastic material that is approved for re-use from patient to patient is disinfected by immersion in glutaraldehyde cold sterilant per the manufacturer's specifications.
We use gloves when treating all patients. Those gloves are always changed between patients, and are never re-used as we move from patient to patient. In those infrequent events where we might have occasion to touch a patient without gloves (because of the use of a material or product that doesn't work particularly well with gloves – like certain adhesives, etc.) you should see us wash our hands immediately before any such contact, again, immediately after, and we should move back to gloves as promptly as possible.
Syringe needles are never used on more than a single patient at a single visit. We never attempt to re-sterilize syring needles, and do not use vials, bottles, carpules or any medicament container more times than it is intended for and certified by the manufacturer. Moreover, we do not refill any medicament bottle that is not intended for such use.
The water in our dental units is part of a closed system that is replenished daily and the water lines are disinfected with each replenishment.
What is the best way to treat Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal diseases, by their name, are a collection of diseases that affect the soft and hard tissue structures supporting the teeth. They have a myriad of causative factors. Of course, there are, likewise, a variety of potential treatments. In general, periodontics as a specialty seeks to use scientifically proven methodologies to successfully treat periodontology. For a broader discussion of these treatments, visit the American Academy of Periodontology website
I understand that there are a number of general health risks related to the
presence of one or more periodontal diseases in my mouth. How can I learn more about these?
It seems like each day, there is another study linking periodontal diseases to other general physical health risks and conditions. The American Academy of Periodontology has compiled a good discussion of these. Many of these relationships have profound implications for your ability to maintain good general health in the presence of periodontal diseases.
I'd like to learn more about dental implants. I think that I might be helped by
their placement, but it seems like lots of dentists and dental specialists place them.
How can I learn more?
A little secret of dental implants is that once placed, they require periodic maintenance and consistent follow up, just as do healthy (and less healthy) teeth. Your periodontist is the best equipped member of the broader "dental team" to provide that care and oversight, as well as the surgical precision and skill to place these potentially life-altering dental fixtures in bone. The American Academy of Periodontology provides a good discussion of dental implants.
I'm afraid to have dental work done and I want to be put out for any work that I have. Do you offer treatment under sedation?
Fear or anxiety over dental procedures is a strong deterrent for many patients in need of dental or periodontal treatment. Though that fear is usually unfounded, the fact is that the fear or anxiety prevents many in need of treatment from getting that treatment. Pain management with use of local anesthesia is of utmost importance. Additionally however, we're able to reduce patient fear and anxiety as well as awareness of treatment time, enhancing our patient's overall treatment experience by using one of several types of sedation procedures. For more information on the sedation we offer, see below.