When you visit your dentist with a specific concern, you will probably assume that they'll be the one who treats you. This isn't always the case, and if your teeth are experiencing an issue with alignment, you might be referred to an orthodontist. Similarly, if the issue is centred around your gums, as well as the underlying bone and ligaments, you might be referred to a periodontist. This is a likely outcome when periodontal disease has compromised the bone supporting your teeth.
Advanced periodontal disease can severely compromise your jaw, to the point that teeth become mobile (loose). This is in addition to any deterioration of the tooth's overall structure, which your dentist will generally address separately from your periodontal treatment. Tooth loss is certainly possible without intervention, and this intervention will involve certain regenerative procedures.
A Bacterial Issue
Untreated periodontal disease is a serious bacterial issue, and this bacteria needs to be managed. A small incision will be made, so your periodontist can access the internal portions of your gums. The gingival tissue is folded back on either side of the incision so that this harmful bacteria can be removed.
Before closing the incision, the periodontist will assess whether further action is necessary. Bacteria can be managed by the insertion of a small artificial membrane beneath your gingival tissues, which can trap excess bacteria. You might also receive a protein supplement, added directly to the opening your periodontist has already made. This stimulates the tissues and aids the regeneration process.
In extreme cases, you might require more intensive treatment. This is when your alveolar ridge (the hard, bony ridge where your dental sockets are found) has begun to weaken. If this is found to be the case, you might need bone grafting to strengthen these bones. The bone tissue to be grafted can be taken from elsewhere in your mouth, or even from elsewhere on your body such as your hip. If your own bone tissue is unsuitable for grafting for whatever reason, compatible donor tissue can be used.
While these regenerative procedures will halt and ultimately reverse the damage that has caused the issue in the first place, it will return unless you make a dedicated effort to maintain a high level of dental health. So if you should ever be referred to a periodontist, it hopefully won't become a regular occurrence.