Periodontology or periodontics (from Greek περί peri “around”; and ὀδούς odous “tooth”, genitive ὀδόντος odontos) is the specialty of dentistry that studies supporting structures of teeth, as well as diseases and conditions that affect them. The supporting tissues are known as the periodontium, which includes the gingiva (gums), alveolar bone, cementum, and the periodontal ligament. A professional who practices this specialty field of dentistry is known as a periodontist. Periodontology is an emerging specialty in the field of dentistry which deals with the diseases of the tooth supporting structures. In the clinical sessions the students are equipped with the skills to carry out various treatment modalities to manage the patients suffering from periodontal diseases.
Periodontists often treat more problematic periodontal cases, such as those with severe gum disease or a complex medical history. Periodontists offer a wide range of treatments, such as scaling and root planing (in which the infected surface of the root is cleaned) or root surface debridement (in which damaged tissue is removed). They can also treat patients with severe gum problems using a range of surgical procedures. In addition, periodontists are specially trained in the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants.
The periodontist examines the gums, checks to see if there is any gum line recession, assesses how the teeth fit together when biting, and checks the teeth to see if any are loose. The periodontist will also take a small measuring instrument called a probe and place it between the teeth and gums to determine the depth of those spaces, known as periodontal pockets; this helps the periodontist assess the health of the gums. X-rays may also be taken to observe the health of the bone below the gum line.
Periodontal diseases take on many different forms but are usually a result of a coalescence of bacterial plaque bio film accumulation of the red complex bacteria (e.g., P. gingivalis, T. forsythia, and T. denticola) of the gingiva and teeth, combined with host immuno-inflammatory mechanisms and other risk factors which lead to destruction of the supporting bone around natural teeth. Untreated, these diseases lead to alveolar bone loss and tooth loss and, to date, continue to be the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
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