NORTHEAST TEXAS PERIODONTAL SPECIALISTS
Nathan E. Hodges, DDS, MS

More About Periodontology

Periodontology is an area of specialized study in dentistry focusing on the study of both the soft and hard tissues that support the teeth, as well as the conditions, diseases and treatments that can affect these tissues, also known as the periodontium.

The periodontium consists of the gums (also known as gingiva), the alveolar bone, the cementum, as well as the periodontal ligament, and this group of tissues has some very important jobs. The periodontium is what attaches the jaws to the teeth, and acts as the shock absorber in chewing and biting, and therefor aids in preventing damage of the teeth. It also helps keep the teeth in a stable position within the structure of the jaw so that chewing is as efficient and comfortable as possible.

These several individual structures that make up the periodontium work together. The tooth socket is actually a small bony pouch within the jawbone that acts a casing for the tooth. The cementum works to cover the teeth roots. And the periodontal ligament is actually a complex system of small fibers - between the cementum and tooth socket - which acts as a sling, holding the tooth in its place.

These different layers of the periodontium are actually living tissues, and are able to adapt to changes in the mouth, shifting over time to make tiny changes in thickness and shape needed to keep teeth stable in their positions.

Periodontology recognizes the underlying relationship between the mouth and the rest of the body, and understands that the mouth is acting as a kind of “mirror” for the general overall condition of a person’s body. A person’s periodontal health can actually represent a lot about that person’s general health. With sensitive and educated understanding periodontology understands this relationship.

For example, though periodontitis is the result of accumulation of plaque on a person’s teeth, diseases that affect the rest of a person’s body (also often referred to as systemic diseases), can also actually weaken the teeth’s supporting structures - the periodontium.

A person’s gum health can show us much more than simply what is occurring at the level of periodontology. Systemic diseases can have noticeable effects on the teeth’s supportive structures. Certain pathologies can present themselves in the mouth before they become evident in other parts of the body.

It is interesting to note to that some very serious health conditions and/or disorders are known to present themselves in a person’s mouth before coming evident in other parts of the body. A periodontist might be the first person to detect signs of a systemic disease such as blood disorders, diabetes, because of how they present themselves in a person’s mouth.

A periodontist is a dentist that specializes in the diagnosis and treatments for periodontal disease. Periodontists also focus on prevention of periodontal disease, as well as dental implants placement treatments. But, because of their extensive knowledge and understanding of how overall oral health - and specifically periodontal health - can reflect overall health, sometimes it is actually a periodontist who will first detect another more general disease in a patient.

Read : Periodontal Frequently Asked Questions