Here are our most frequently asked questions.
1. Dr. Wong is a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. What does that mean?
To quote the American Academy of Periodontology (www.perio.org) , a “Diplomate is a periodontist who has made significant achievements beyond the mandatory educational requirements of the specialty and who is certified by the American Board of Periodontology”.
To be educationally qualified for Board certification requires:
- Certification as a dentist, including basic college education and completion of dental school to earn the D.D.S. or D.M.D. degree and;
- Certification as a periodontist after postdoctoral study in an ADA approved program. This period of study is concentrated on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease.
In addition to the educational requirements, Board certification requires:
- Comprehensive written and oral examinations covering all phases of periodontal disease and its treatment, including dental implants.
- Presentation of detailed reports on a broad range of actual treatment personally provided by the periodontist.
- Recertification every three years.
2. Aren’t all periodontists board-certified? What is the American Board of Periodontology?
With so many different dental societies and memberships available for dentists and periodontists to join, the term “board-certified” can be confusing to patients. Patients should ask their doctor for specific qualifications and membership associations. Because a doctor is board-certified does not mean he/she is certified by the recognized organization of the profession, in this case the American Dental Association (ADA). The American Board of Periodontology is the only specialty board recognized by the ADA in the field of periodontics. Only about 1/3 of all periodontists practicing in the United States are board-certified by the American Board of Periodontology.
The activities of the American Board of Periodontology conform to the “Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties and National Certifying Boards for Dental Specialists” of the American Dental Association Council on Dental Education applicable to specialty boards in dentistry.
3. Why choose a board-certified periodontist?
Periodontists specialize in the surgical treatment of gum conditions, cosmetic surgery included (see images on this site). That being the case, there are several dentists/periodontists who are not board-certified that are capable of performing periodontal surgery. And while choosing a board-certified periodontist does not guarantee a good result, it should instill a level of trust in you that your surgeon has voluntarily met all of the rigorous standards of a certifying board through application, examination, certification, and re-certification.
4. What Does a Periodontist Do?
In its simplest terms, periodontists are dentists who treat gum (periodontal) disease which is mainly caused by plaque bacteria, and affected by other factors such as pregnancy, medications, smoking, diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions. In addition to treating gum disease, periodontists offer a variety of cosmetic procedures such as dental implants, gingival recontouring, and tissue grafts to cover exposed and sensitive root surfaces of the teeth. For more information and examples of some of these procedures click on one of the buttons to the left of the page.
5. Why Do I Need a Periodontist?
Periodontal therapy is often recommended by your dentist (or other health care professional) in order to re-establish the health and stability of the supporting structures of your teeth. This health and stability is vital to ensure the quality, longevity, and esthetics of your dental services and restorations. In addition, your gums and supporting structures of your teeth are the cornerstone of oral health and the foundation of your daily life whether it be eating, speaking, or smiling. Your mouth is more than your center of expression, your instrument of communication, and your vehicle of nutrition… it is your health. Periodontal disease is an irreversible process that has several relationships with your health, so proper attention must be given to your periodontal therapy.
6. What are dental implants and how do I know if they are right for me?
A dental implant is a screw-shaped titanium body that is placed into the jawbone in order to act as an artificial root. After a period of healing, your dentist will construct a new crown or bridge or other prosthesis in order to replace the teeth you have been missing while restoring your mouth to its optimal form, function, comfort, esthetics, and most importantly– health. No allergic reactions occur due to the excellent biocompatibility of the titanium metal.
Candidates for dental implants have to meet several criteria. Assuming that you are in acceptable health and your expectations are reasonable, you must first have a healthy mouth. That means that your oral hygiene must be good and all of your cavities and plaque are under control. Second, you must have enough bone support in your jaws for the implants to be placed. This may be determined by your dentist or surgeon, but additional x-rays may be needed to make sure. Finally, the relationships between your teeth, gums, lips, and other oral structures must be thoroughly evaluated to ensure that the implant will have the proper form, function, and appearance. Your doctor will look at other criteria as well, but these are the main considerations. Ask your dentist for details.
7. Do implants and other periodontal surgeries hurt? Will I need to be “knocked out”?
Periodontal and implant surgeries generally cause mild to moderate pain. Few patients consider their post-operative pain severe and most do not require sedation during surgery. At most, patients sometimes request an anti-anxiety pill like Valium or Xanax to help them through the procedure, but “knocking them out” is usually not necessary. In addition, most procedures take 1 1/2 hours or less. Pain medication will be prescribed to manage post-operative pain, but most patients are usually fairly comfortable by the 3rd or 4th day.
8. Is there a cure for periodontal disease?
In a word, no. Periodontal disease is irreversible, although under certain circumstances relatively predictable procedures exist that are able to regenerate some of the tissues lost as a result of periodontal disease. Because we all only have one set of teeth to last the rest of our adult lives, and in general, we are all likely to live longer, it is all the more important to catch periodontal disease early in its most treatable state while treatment options are still available.
9. Why is periodontal treatment necessary when it does not hurt?
Whether it hurts or not, periodontal disease is an infection caused by bacteria and should be treated as such. Like heart disease and other conditions, by the time symptoms develop, it may be too late– teeth may have to be extracted which may lead to compromises in appearance, speech, diet, comfort, self-esteem, and the overall quality of life. Besides contributing to oral and dental symptoms like root sensitivity, root cavities, bone loss in your jaws, changes in your bite, tooth abscesses, and premature loss of teeth, periodontal disease may affect your systemic health as well. Remember, if you are considering dental implants or even crown and bridge work, your teeth and gums must be healthy, and A CLEAN MOUTH IS A HEALTHY MOUTH!!!
10. My physician says that my periodontal disease may be affecting my health? Is that possible?
Yes. Patients with severe periodontal disease are estimated to be 2-3 times more likely than healthy individuals to have a heart attack and/or a stroke. In addition, biopsies of patients with atherosclerosis have revealed some of the same bacteria implicated in periodontal disease. Other diseases and conditions which may be associated with periodontal disease include pre-mature low birth weight babies, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, respiratory diseases, and many, many more.
For more information about periodontal disease, please visit the American Academy of Periodontology web site at www.perio.org.