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Periodontics

Discover a place where gentle caring dentistry means giving you everything you need.

At Bethesda Family Dentistry, we offer comprehensive dental care that gives you everything you need in one location. Our general dentists work alongside a variety of dental specialists to provide our patients with convenient, consistent care. One such dental specialist is our in-house Periodontist, Dr. Jingchao (Jean) Li. Periodontal specialists, or Periodontists, are essentially gum specialists that focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal, or gum, disease. In order to obtain their title, they must attend three additional years of specialized training after graduating from dental school.

Did You Know?

Gum disease is extremely popular. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently concluded that as many as 64.7 million Americans over the age of 30 are affected by Periodontitis. This means that about half the American population has advanced gum disease!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need periodontal care?

Close up of inflamed, bleeding gums

You may need periodontal care if you are exhibiting signs of possible gum disease including: persistent bad breath, loose teeth with spaces in between, pus around the teeth, or gums that are red, swollen, puffy, receding, or that bleed easily when brushing or flossing. Additionally, you may benefit from periodontal care if you have a complex medical history, have a genetic predisposition for gum disease, are taking medications that cause dry mouth, or if you are planning on having dental implants placed. To find out if you are an ideal candidate for periodontal care, schedule a consultation with our periodontist, Dr. Jean today!

How often do I need periodontal care?

The frequency you will need periodontal care will depend on your individual periodontal needs. For most, basic periodontal care is carried out at your routine dental checkups and professional teeth cleanings every six months. However, if you have an active case of gingivitis or periodontitis, you may require additional or more frequent cleanings.

What periodontal services does Bethesda Family Dentistry offer?

Dr. Jean offers a full range of periodontal services within our office such as:

  • Scaling and root planing: a specialized periodontal cleaning that removes plaque, tartar, and bacteria from above and below the gum line.
  • Gum grafts: replaces missing gum tissue by grafting tissue from elsewhere in the mouth.
  • Placing dental implants: artificial tooth roots that are implanted into the gums to replace missing teeth.
  • Dental crown lengthening: used to reduce the amount of gum tissue for cosmetic purposes or for the placement of a dental crown.
  • Pocket reduction procedures: used to reduce the size of gum pockets.
  • Cosmetic periodontal procedures: various procedures used to improve the aesthetics of the gum line.

What can I expect when visiting my Periodontist at Bethesda Family Dentistry?

When visiting your periodontist at Bethesda Family Dentistry, you can expect to have an oral examination of your gums and teeth. Your gum pockets, or the space between your teeth and gums, will be measured using a periodontal probe. Healthy gums have a measurement of three millimeters or less. Anything higher than three millimeters can indicate some form of gum disease. Depending on the size of your gum pockets, your periodontist may also check your teeth for signs of sensitivity, loosening, or shifting. She may also check your dental x-rays to evaluate the underlying bone tissue for signs of bone loss. This is all  to further determine the severity of possible gum disease.

During your periodontal consultation, Dr. Jean will also ask you about your medical history, current medications, and family history to determine if you are at a higher risk for developing gum disease. She may also ask about your daily dental hygiene routine and techniques to ensure that you are properly removing plaque without damaging your gum tissue.

What is gum disease?

Normal tooth vs periodontitis

Periodontal disease, more commonly referred to as gum disease, can occur in one of two forms: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue and is characterized by gums that are red, swollen, and bleed easily. Periodontitis, on the other hand, is an advanced form of gum disease in which the gums have become infected as a result of bacteria permeating below the gum line. While gingivitis can generally be reversed by good oral hygiene, periodontitis cannot be reversed.

What causes gum disease?

Most cases of gum disease are simply caused by a lack of oral hygiene or improper brushing and flossing techniques. Gum disease occurs as the result of plaque accumulation, because the bacteria found in plaque cause an inflammatory response in the gums. However in some cases, gum disease can be caused by other factors such as hormonal changes, certain medications, certain medical conditions, and genetic predisposition.

How will my periodontist treat my gum disease?

Dr. Jean’s treatment plan for your gum disease will depend on the type and severity of your gum disease. For gingivitis, one to two dental cleanings, as well as a modified home dental routine is generally enough to reduce the amount of plaque and reduce the inflammation.

Scaling and root planing

For periodontitis, the most common treatment recommended by Dr. Jean is a special periodontal cleaning called scaling and root planing. This is a two-part procedure that removes plaque, tartar, and bacteria from above and below the gum line and then smooths out the root surface of your teeth to reduce the amount of plaque, tartar, and bacteria that are able to attach to the teeth in the future. Once the plaque, tartar, and bacteria have been removed, the gums can start to heal themselves and the size of your gum pockets should begin to decrease.

In advanced cases or periodontitis, additional measures may need to be taken. For example, if the gum pockets don’t decrease or show signs of improvement after scaling and root planing, then a gum graft may be required to cover exposed tooth roots and promote new gum tissue growth. In other cases, if advanced periodontitis has caused bone or tooth loss, a bone graft may be required to replenish lost bone mass. If teeth have been lost, dental implants may also be needed to replace missing teeth.

For a qualified, experienced, and caring approach to Periodontics, schedule a consultation with our Periodontist, Dr. Jingchao (Jean) Li at either our Ferndale Bethesda Family Dentistry office in Bethesda or our Executive Bethesda Family Dentistry office in North Bethesda.  

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