How Gum Disease Progresses. Movie courtesy of Patient Care Suite©

Periodontics is the dental specialty devoted to the treatment of the supporting structures of the teeth -- that is the gums, bone and other associated tissues. A periodontist is a dentist that specializes in treating diseases of the periodontium.

A periodontist, aside from being a specialist that treats diseases of the gums and tooth-supporting structures, has a widely expanded role in modern dentistry. The two areas where Periodontics has become integral in modern dentistry is in dental cosmetics and implant dentistry.

Due to a periodontist's unique knowledge of tissue engineering, soft tissue management and the anatomy of the oral structures including bony topography, they are excellent choices for dental implant surgeons.

In dental cosmetics, periodontists have the ability to improve soft tissue symmetry, color, tone and the quality of tissue available through a myriad of techniques. Cleveland Clinic periodontists perform all of these services daily.

How Gum Disease Progresses

Gum disease is most often a slow, progressive infection that takes many years to evolve. Like high blood pressure, it is often "silent;" that is, you may not recognize that you have it. Over time, gum disease can create huge dental problems.

The movie above shows how the gums progressively recede until the teeth become loose. In this case, when the lower teeth are lost, more problems begin with the upper teeth migrating downward, making it hard or impossible to place any kind of artificial restoration without extracting or orthodontically moving the upper teeth.