Periodontal disease or periodontitis is an ongoing inflammatory condition that can damage the body in many ways.
Not only does the bacteria break down the supporting tissues of your natural teeth, but they can also create inflammation in other parts of the body such as arthritis and asthma. Red or inflamed gums are a cause for concern and should be looked at by a dentist as soon as possible.
Periodontal disease, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, are inflammatory diseases of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth.
With the help of our periodontist at Sierra Dental, these conditions are treatable, the longer the condition goes untreated, the fewer options we have for treatment and the more likely it is that teeth may be lost.
A periodontist treats issues affecting the gums and the bones in your mouth.
Gum disease can take many forms and may have a long-term negative impact on your health if not treated. Minor infections of gum tissue caused by gum bacteria can rapidly become more serious and start to attack the bone.
If you suffer from gum problems, you need a diagnosis and treatment plan from a qualified periodontist as soon as possible.
Your dental and medical histories will be reviewed, your oral cavity will be examined and you will be advised of the treatment options available.
Your periodontist will assess the severity of the problem and usually treat it with non-surgical methods. However, more serious cases may require surgery.
Meet Our Periodontists in Calgary
Dr. Ben Thomas
Dr. Ben Thomas was born in Calgary and raised in Crossfield, Alberta.
After high school, he worked full-time for a year, then spent two years abroad before moving to the United States to pursue further education.
He completed his undergraduate education at Brigham Young University, where he majored in Neuroscience and minored in French.
He then earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree, Master of Public Health degree, and Specialty Certificate in Periodontics from the University of North Carolina. His training also included certification in Intravenous Sedation and Advanced Cardiac Life Support.
Dr. Javier Cabrales
Dr. Javier Cabrales completed the Graduate Periodontics program at the University of Manitoba in June 2020. Prior to his periodontal training, he received his DMD from the University of Saskatchewan in 2014 and thereafter worked as a general dentist for 3 years prior to entering postgraduate studies.
Dr. Cabrales is fluent in both English and Spanish, and was drawn to Calgary for its mountains. When not at work, he enjoys going for long walks with his dog, snowboarding, cycling, and playing sports such as soccer and squash.
As trained periodontists, they specialize in the management of periodontal disease and the placement of dental implants. This includes:
Limited or complete periodontal evaluation
Surgical and non-surgical periodontal therapy
Surgical implant placement
Bone graftings, such as ridge and sinus augmentation
Extractions and ridge preservations
Functional & Esthetic crown lengthening
At Sierra Dental we are firmly committed to helping you enjoy your teeth for a lifetime. And the treatment of periodontitis is an essential part of our mission to serve Calgary’s dental health.
Recommendations regarding disease management are made in view of helping you achieve optimum periodontal health to ensure each tooth will last as long as possible.
Although we realize that many of our patients are covered by insurance plans which place limitations on the amount and frequency of dental care, our top priority is always to do what best ensures your health and addresses your goals.
Therefore, we recommend periodontal disease treatment without regard to insurance coverage. If this raises a financial concern for you, please advise us so that financial arrangements may be discussed before treatment is rendered.
At Sierra Dental, we place great emphasis on prevention and our qualified staff take pride in providing the best available care.
Give one of our professionals a call at 403-297-9600. We will gladly answer any questions you may have!
Non-surgical treatments recommended by periodontists
Plaque and tartar may penetrate deep under the gum line and cause inflammation of the gums. This can usually be removed by frequent dental cleaning or with the use of scaling and root planing (deeper cleaning methods that remove plaque and bacteria from above and below the gum line.).
You could also be recommended a course of antimicrobial or antibiotic medicines or asked to wear a tray delivery system (a custom-fit impression of your teeth with the medication already applied).
Serious issues can often be prevented if you see your periodontist early for non-surgical treatment.
Surgical treatments recommended by periodontists
If your gum disease is more advanced, such as when plaque or bacteria has caused your gums to recede (and exposure of a tooth’s root), you may need a gum or bone graft.
This is the most common type of surgical intervention for the condition known as periodontitis. Tissue or bone is taken from another area of the mouth to cover the receded gum line or damaged bone. Restoring the gum line or bone can help make teeth more stable, prevent tooth decay, reduce pain, and restore your smile.
“Flap surgery” or “pocket reduction surgery” may be used for advanced stages of periodontitis. The gums are lifted and tartar is removed. If the bone is damaged, its irregular surface can be smoothed to prevent further buildup of disease-causing bacteria. The main idea of such surgery is to reduce the space between the gum and tooth, allowing you to better clean around your teeth and gums.
Other possible surgical treatments we may also recommend regenerative procedures that encourage new bone and tissue growth, dental crown lengthening (which removes bone to lengthen the crown of the tooth) or dental implants, which hold a replacement tooth or bridge.
Besides addressing gum disease, a periodontist may perform elective surgical processes that are requested by a patient for cosmetic reasons. Sometimes, for instance, dental crown lengthening, gum grafts, or ridge augmentation can improve overall appearance or, more specifically, the smile.
When should you see a periodontist?
Some people visit a periodontist only when their gums have already receded and are causing pain, discomfort, and/or affecting their appearance. This can be costly.
It’s best to see a periodontist as soon as you experience the early warning signs of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is a mild form of the disease that causes irritation, redness and swelling around the gum at the base of your teeth.
Many of the problems associated with gingivitis can be prevented with good oral hygiene, such as regular cleaning and frequent visits to the dentist. If gingivitis has already turned into periodontitis, a visit to the periodontist may be recomended by your general dentistist is long overdue.
Generally, consider making an appointment with a periodontist if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Swollen or irritating gums
Inflammation caused by plaque and bacteria is one of the first signs of gum disease. Remember, your gums should be pink rather than red and swollen-looking.
Even mild inflammation should be checked because if mild gingivitis is untreated, infections and tooth loss can quickly result.
If your gums bleed after eating, brushing or flossing (or are very tender to the touch), it is another sign that something may be amiss and you should book an appointment.
Halitosis (bad breath)
Bad breath doesn’t always mean that you have gum disease but it’s best to eliminate it as a cause of your bad breath, especially if you maintain good dental hygiene.
Pain when eating or a loose tooth
If eating causes you pain or sensitivity or you feel one or more teeth loosening, you need to see a dentist. Your dentist may recommend a periodontist if the problems stem from the gums.
A receding gumline
Like with the other signs mentioned, a receding gumline does not necessarily mean you have gum disease (it could be from the way you brush) but you should have a periodontist diagnose the cause.
The four stages of periodontal disease
Usually, periodontal disease progresses according to the following stages:
Gingivitis: plaque buildup at or around the gumline. If treated with cleaning (and maybe antibiotics), the condition may be reversed but untreated it can rapidly start to attack the bones.
Mild periodontal disease: this affects both the bone and fibres that support tooth roots. The infection has already started to destroy the bone but is usually treatable by deep cleaning methods, such as scaling and root planing.
Moderate periodontal disease: this occurs when deeper periodontal pockets are formed, allowing bacteria to aggressively attack the bones and blood. It requires gum disease treatment.
Advanced periodontal disease: when bacteria has deteriorated the bone, you may require periodontal surgery to treat it. This deep-cleans bacteria-filled pockets. Failure to treat this can lead to gaps between the teeth, serious gum recession, and the need for dentures.
What happens when you visit a periodontist?
When you visit a periodontist at Sierra Dental, you can first explain your symptoms during an initial consultation.
You will receive an oral exam to check the health of your teeth and gums. Your periodontist may take an x-ray, measure the space between your teeth and gums and you will likely be asked questions about your past dental and medical history.
After this, you will receive a recommended treatment plan based on your condition.
As well as treating you, your periodontist may recommend lifestyle changes and at-home treatments that can help keep future gum disease at bay, with tips on:
Brushing and flossing
The type of toothbrush to use and brushing methods
How to reduce plaque buildup
Other oral hygiene methods, including using mouthwash
As periodontal disease progresses, the supporting tissues that hold the teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss.
In addition to tooth loss, moderate or severe periodontal disease also poses a threat to overall health by increasing risk of cardiovascular disease, by complicating the management of diabetes, and even predisposing unborn babies to pre-term birth and low birth weight.
Unfortunately, once periodontal disease begins, professional intervention is almost always necessary to prevent its progression.
Many patients’ periodontal needs can be managed by their general dentist and dental hygienist; however, moderate or severe gum disease should generally be managed by a periodontist.
Furthermore, in cases where it is complicated by the effects of heart disease, diabetes, smoking, or other health problems, effective periodontal treatment may necessitate the greater understanding and expertise of a trained specialist.