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What Makes a Periodontist Different from a General Dentist?

April 22nd, 2020

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. Dwight Landry 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. Dwight Landry can provide you with the best possible care for your individual needs from the comfort of our Geismar, LA office.

Smoking and Dental Implants

April 15th, 2020

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to replace a missing tooth with an implant. While an implant will restore the appearance of your smile, you also know that there are many reasons that an implant will improve your health, too.

A missing tooth causes structural problems as well as cosmetic ones. Remaining teeth can shift to fill the gap, leading to wear and bite problems. Without the stimulation of biting and chewing, bone tissue under the lost tooth gradually shrinks and is resorbed. The shapes of our jaws, cheeks and lips can be affected. Replacing a lost tooth with an implant can not only restore the appearance of your smile, but maintain it.

And implant procedures have a very high rate of success. Implants are made of materials compatible with the body, and surgically placed in the jaw to act as anchors for replacement teeth. The implant will actually integrate with the bone growing around it for strong, stable, and long-lasting support. After the time it takes for the implant to integrate and the area around it to heal, a crown, designed to match your own teeth perfectly, will be securely attached to the implant post.

What can you do to help the healing process? Follow our instructions carefully. Dr. Dwight Landry will give you suggestions for the time immediately following the procedure as well as instructions on the importance of keeping the area clean while healing takes place. And one very important favor you can do yourself? If you smoke, this is the time to stop.

Studies have shown that smokers have a significantly increased risk of dental problems and implant failures, and there are several theories as to why.

  • Smoking slows the healing process. Some studies indicate that smoking impairs blood flow in the gums, so that less oxygen and fewer nutrients are delivered to healing tissue.
  • Smokers tend to be more vulnerable to gum disease.
  • Smoking has been linked to a weaker immune system, so it’s harder to fight off an infection or to heal from one.
  • More marginal bone loss around implants is seen in smokers than in non-smokers.
  • Peri-implantitis, an inflammation of the gum tissue around the implant that can lead to bone loss and implant failure, is also more common in smokers.

Now that you have decided on a dental implant at our Geismar, LA office, make one more decision to ensure the success of the procedure. Talk to us about ways to quit smoking before your implant, and how to reduce the chance of smoking-related complications. We know that quitting can be difficult, but your improved smile—and your improved health—are worth it!

My gums are inflamed. What can I do?

April 8th, 2020

Inflamed gums are a fairly common dental issue, but unfortunately, many people don't take the problem seriously enough. If you ignore inflamed gums and continue your usual routine, you could be encouraging a much more severe inflammation problem, and the pain that goes along with that. Fortunately, it is quite easy to relieve inflamed gums if you use the tips below.

Use Soft Bristles

A soft-bristle toothbrush - the softest you can buy - is a must for anyone with inflamed gums. Anything that makes contact with your gums can cause you pain, so fine and soft bristles are always the best choice.

Use Sensitive Formula Toothpaste

The toothpaste marketed as “Sensitive Teeth Formula” contain special ingredients to help relieve sensitivity. When your gums are inflamed, even light brushing can cause some pain. Using a special toothpaste will help reduce that pain and make it easier to brush your teeth effectively. The effect becomes stronger as you use the toothpaste more, so use it for each brushing.

Visit Our Office

If your gums remain swollen for more than a few days or a week, set up an appointment with Dr. Dwight Landry. There is a long list of conditions that could be causing your swollen gums, everything from gum disease to pregnancy, so you need to find out where your issue is coming from. Most of the time, Dr. Dwight Landry can easily treat the swollen gum issue at our Geismar, LA office, or can give you an effective treatment to take home.

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

April 1st, 2020

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. Dr. Dwight Landry and our team at Dental Implant Center of Louisiana hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!