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What Makes a Periodontist Different from a General Dentist?

August 14th, 2018

Your regular dentist is a lot like your regular doctor. You see them both frequently for checkups and advice on maintaining your health. Your dentist is the one to visit for dental concerns such as discovering and treating cavities and gingivitis, fitting crowns and putting in fillings, performing simple extractions and many more of the procedures that keep our teeth and mouths healthy. And just as your general practitioner might refer you to a specialist if needed, your dentist might recommend a dental specialist called a periodontist like Dr. Dalessandro for expert treatment of more serious periodontal conditions.

The word “periodontist” was coined from the Greek words for “around” and “tooth”—in other words, a practitioner whose specialty is the treatment of the supporting structures around our teeth. These structures include the gums, the bone tissue holding the tooth, and the connective tissue between tooth and bone. A degree in periodontology generally requires three additional years of post-doctoral study after dental school focused on the treatment of periodontal disease and cosmetic restorations.

What special care does a periodontist provide?

  • Diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease. Periodontitis is a disease of the gums and bones around the teeth caused by the body’s response to the bacteria in plaque. The earlier it is treated, the better. Untreated gum disease can lead to serious infection and tooth and bone loss.
  • Surgical care for periodontal disease. This might involve gum grafting for receding gums or regeneration therapy to restore bone tissue.
  • Debridement, scaling and root planing. These procedures remove excessive plaque and tartar from areas of the tooth above and below the gumline.
  • Monitoring interactions with other health conditions. If you have diabetes, heart disease or other systemic diseases, it’s a good idea to have a periodontal evaluation. Pregnant women can also benefit from an exam if they develop gum swelling and bleeding as a result of the changes caused by pregnancy hormones.
  • Implant placement. For those considering an implant, periodontists will make sure the underlying bone is healthy and has enough density for an implant, can build up the bone if needed, and will place the implant in the bone.

Your regular dentist is your first stop when taking care of your dental health. Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, can usually be treated by your regular dentist or dental hygienist. But if you need a specialist for more advanced periodontal disease, if you have medical issues that interact with gum health, or if you are considering a dental implant, Dr. Dalessandro can provide you with the best possible care for your individual needs from the comfort of our Hoffman Estates, IL office.

Toothbrush Care

August 7th, 2018

You found the perfect toothbrush! The bristles are soft, to avoid irritating your delicate gum tissue. The angle of the bristles is perfect for removing plaque. The handle is durable and comfortable when you spend at least two minutes brushing in the morning and two at night. Why, you love this toothbrush and you’ll never let it go… for the next three or four months.

The life of a toothbrush is naturally a short one. Dr. Dalessandro and our team recommend replacement every three to four months because the bristles become frayed and worn with daily use. They cannot clean as effectively when the bristles begin to break down, and, depending on your brushing style, may wear out even more rapidly. (Children will probably need to replace toothbrushes at least every three months.) But even in the short time you have your toothbrush, there are ways to keep it ready for healthy brushing.

  • Don’t share. While sharing is normally a virtue, sharing toothbrushes can lead to an increased risk of infections, especially for those with compromised immune systems or existing infectious diseases. Similarly, keep different brushes separate when drying to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Rinse thoroughly after brushing. Make sure to remove any toothpaste or debris left after you brush.
  • Store the brush upright. Air-drying is the preferred way to dry your brush, as covering the brush or keeping it in a closed container can promote the growth of bacteria more easily.

There are several products on the market that promise to sanitize your brush. The verdict is still out on its success, but if you or someone in your home has a compromised immune system, call our Hoffman Estates, IL office to see if it might be worth your while to check them out.

Even though your toothbrush won’t be with you long, make its stay as effective and hygienic as possible. And if you find a brush you love—stock up!

When should I see a periodontist?

July 31st, 2018

There are several conditions that might require a visit to the periodontist. Periodontists like Dr. Dalessandro are specialists in the treatment of gum disease and problems affecting the tissue surrounding the teeth. Your general dentist might recommend seeing a periodontist for any of these conditions:

  • Early signs of periodontal disease

If you notice that your gums are red or swollen, or if you see bleeding when you brush and floss, a visit to your dentist is in order. He or she can let you know if you need to schedule a trip to the periodontist, or if you can be treated by your regular dentist.

  • Receding gums

When gums recede, your teeth experience not only more sensitivity, but also possible bone and tissue loss. Periodontists are skilled in treating gum recession with gum grafts and regeneration therapy if required.

  • Pain when eating or sensitivity to heat and cold

These symptoms could be a sign that pockets have formed in the gum tissue as periodontal disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth. Pockets around the teeth can hold bacteria, leading to infection, or expose parts of the root, leading to tooth sensitivity.

  • Your bite has shifted or you notice loose teeth

As gum disease progresses, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving the bone and connective tissue exposed to infection. Infection can cause loss of the bone structure supporting the teeth, leading to loose teeth or a change in your normal bite.

  • If you are considering a dental implant

Periodontists will make sure the underlying bone is healthy and has enough density for an implant, can build up the bone if necessary with augmentation procedures, and will place the implant in the bone.

Finally, if you smoke, have a family history of gum disease, or have a systemic disease such as diabetes or heart disease, an evaluation by a periodontist is a good idea. Often, the early stages of periodontal disease are invisible. Frequent checkups with your regular dentist will help prevent periodontal disease before it develops. And if your general dentist recommends an evaluation at our Hoffman Estates, IL office, rest assured that you will be treated by a doctor with the training and knowledge necessary to help you to the best possible outcome for both your smile and your overall health!

How HPV and Oral Cancer are Related

July 24th, 2018

Did you know that Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and oral cancer are linked? This information may prevent you or a loved one from suffering from oral cancer if a diagnosis is made early. Dr. Dalessandro and our team want you to understand how you can prevent the spread of oral cancer and protect yourself if you have HPV.

People don’t often speak up about this common virus, but we believe it’s important to educate yourself to prevent the potential spread of oral cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 80% of Americans will have HPV infections in their lifetime without even knowing it. Symptoms usually go unnoticed, though it’s one of the most common viruses in the U.S. The body’s immune system is generally able to kill the HPV infection without causing any noticeable issues. If you think you might have HPV, talk with primary care physician about getting the preventive vaccine or taking an HPV test.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, “HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers (the very back of the mouth and throat), and a very small number of front of the mouth, oral cavity cancers. HPV16 is the version most responsible, and affects both males and females.”

Common signs of oral cancer may include:

  • Ulcers or sores that don’t heal within a couple of weeks
  • Swelling, lumps, and discoloration on the soft tissues in the mouth
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Pain with chewing
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Numbness of the mouth or lips
  • Lumps felt on the outside of the neck
  • Constant coughing
  • Earaches on one side of your head

If you experience any of these side effects, please contact Dalessandro Implants & Periodontics as soon as possible.

We hope this information will help you understand the interactions between HPV and oral cancer. Please remember to take precautionary steps if you notice anything out of the ordinary with regard to your oral health. If you have any questions or concerns, contact our Hoffman Estates, IL office.

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