An interview with Dr. Shawn Thomas, a periodontist, of Chicago Periodontal.
● What is a periodontist?
A dental specialist who treats diseases and conditions involving the structures supporting the teeth (bone and gingiva). A periodontist is trained in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease, the restoration of deficient tissue (bone and soft tissue), and the placement of dental implants
● What inspired you to pursue a career in periodontics?
While in dental school, I gravitated to the surgical aspect of periodontics whenever I shadowed a periodontal faculty member. During my early years in clinic, I was very discouraged when a patient had to lose some or all of their teeth and I wanted to be part of a field that would do everything possible to save teeth because I know how important it is to a patient to keep their natural teeth. I wanted to receive extra training in placing dental implants in order to replace teeth that needed to be extracted or have been missing for some time.
● For what reasons would someone see a periodontist?
One may see a periodontist for the treatment of periodontal disease (bone loss around teeth), placement of dental implants, extractions, bone grafting, soft tissue grafting for gingival recession and lack of tissue, treatment of peri-implantitis (bone loss around implants), and for the diagnosis and treatment of oral pathology of soft tissue
● What happens during a patient’s first periodontal consultation?
During the first visit, we collect important information through a thorough health history, exam, and periodontal charting that is used to diagnose periodontal disease and determine the severity of the disease and prognosis of the teeth. After that is completed, a treatment plan is recommended. If dental implants are considered, a cone beam CT scan (3-D x-ray) may be taken at this appointment as well in order to determine the amount and quality of bone present
● What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is a pathological inflammatory condition that affects the periodontal tissues (gingiva and bone) and is caused from certain pathogenic bacteria and their toxins that they produce. It typically starts out as gingivitis (inflammation in the gingival tissues) and if not treated, can spread to the bone surrounding the teeth and cause bone loss
● How can patients best prevent periodontal disease?
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to have good oral hygiene at home (proper brushing and flossing 2x/day) and seeing your general dentist every 6 months for an exam and cleaning