A periodontist treats gum disease (periodontitis); a conservative form of treatment is almost always done first, with surgical care being used only if necessary. When teeth cannot be kept, they can be replaced with dental implants. This is the closest thing to having real teeth.
Periodontal disease afflicts about 80% of the population of the U.S., to varying extents. Some 5-20% of adults have severe periodontal disease with deep gum pocketing and bone loss around at least 1 tooth. Gum disease / Periodontitis affects those structures that support the teeth, the gum and the bone. If left untreated, it can result in unnecessary tooth loss. Its exact cause is still being investigated, but we do know that the sticky bacterial formation, known as plaque, is associated strongly. We also know that an individual must be susceptible as well, which has led to investigation in the field of genetics and how those relationships contribute to the disease process.
Periodontal regeneration, one of the focuses of Dr. Fields’ practice, is aimed at actually replacing or rebuilding those structures that have been destroyed by periodontitis. In some instances, bone can be replaced where it had been lost. (see photos below)
We can also replace the soft tissues via gingival grafting from a donor site. This is done to increase the amount of gum tissue immediately next to the tooth. Grafting replaces the original function of gum tissue, to act as a “seal” to the neck of the tooth, preventing bacterial penetration. Both of these procedures are described as being painless by most patients.