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joseph a. allen, d.d.s.
periodontics  -  implants  - microsurgery
Kendall (Miami, Fl)
Tel: 305.595.4117
Email: jaallen@perio.us

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)


What are periodontal diseases?

The word "periodontal" literally means "around the tooth." Periodontal diseases are serious bacterial infections that destroy the attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth. Left untreated, these diseases can lead to tooth loss. There are many forms of periodontal disease: Gingivitis

Mild periodontitis

Moderate to advanced periodontitis

Juvenile periodontitis

Is there a relationship between tobacco use and periodontal disease?

Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease. Smokers are much more likely than non-smokers to have calculus form on their teeth, have deeper pockets between the teeth and gums and lose more of the bone and tissue that support the teeth. 

 Is it normal for my gums to bleed when I brush my teeth?

Bleeding gums are one of the signs of gum disease. Think of gum tissue as the skin on your hand. If your hands bled every time you washed them, you would know something was wrong. There are a number of other warning signs of gum disease. Do you have warning signs of gum disease?

What are pockets?

Your bone and gum tissue should fit snugly around your teeth like a turtleneck around your neck. When you have periodontal disease, this supporting tissue and bone is destroyed, forming "pockets" around the teeth. Over time, these pockets become deeper, providing a larger space for bacteria to live. As bacteria develop around the teeth, they can accumulate and advance under the gum tissue. These deep pockets collect even more bacteria, resulting in further bone and tissue loss. Eventually, if too much bone is lost, the teeth will need to be extracted.

Could my periodontal disease be genetic?

Research proves that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early interventive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime. Request a free AAP brochure on the causes and symptoms of periodontal disease.

Can I pass my periodontal disease to others?

Periodontal disease may be passed from parents to children and between couples, according to an article in the September 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Researchers suggest bacteria that cause periodontal disease pass though saliva. This means that the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member. Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. Based on this research, The American Academy of Periodontology recognizes that treatment of gum disease may involve entire families. If one family member has periodontal disease, the AAP recommends that all family members see a dental professional for a periodontal disease screening. More about the spread of periodontal disease within families


What can I do to try and avoid periodontal disease?

To keep your teeth for a lifetime, you must remove the plaque from your teeth and gums every day with proper brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are also important. Daily cleaning will help keep calculus formation to a minimum, but it won't completely prevent it. A professional cleaning at least twice a year is necessary to remove calculus from places your toothbrush and floss may have missed. Other factors can affect the health of your gums.

We will be happy to give you a brochure on proper brushing and flossing techniques.

What can I expect the first time I visit the office

During your first visit, your we will review your complete medical and dental history with you. It's extremely important for us to know if you are taking any medications or are being treated for any condition that can affect your periodontal care. You will be given a complete oral and periodontal exam. Dr Allen will examine your gums, check to see if there is any gum line recession, assess how your teeth fit together when you bite and check your teeth to see if any are loose. He will will also take a small measuring instrument and place it between your teeth and gums to determine the depth of those spaces, known as periodontal pockets. This helps us assess the health of your gums. Radiographs (x-rays) may be used to show the bone levels between your teeth to check for possible bone loss. 


What kinds of oral care products should I use?

Here are some guidelines for choosing dental care products what works for most patients most of the time. To find out what is best for your particular needs, ask us.

Begin with the right equipment a soft bristled toothbrush that allows you to reach every surface of each tooth. If the bristles on your toothbrush are bent or frayed, buy a new one. A worn-out brush will not clean your teeth properly.

In addition to manual toothbrushes, your choices include automatic tooth brushes and "high tech" electronic toothbrushes. These are safe and effective for the majority of patients.

Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will not remove plaque from your teeth unless used in conjunction with brushing and flossing.

Another aid is the rubber tip, often found on the handle end of a toothbrush used to massage the gums after brushing and flossing. Other options include interproximal toothbrushes (tiny brushes that clean plaque between teeth) and interdental cleaners (small sticks or picks that remove plaque between teeth). If used improperly, these dental aids can injure the gums, so it is important to discuss proper use with us.

How should I choose toothpaste and mouth rinses?

Fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse used in conjunction with brushing and flossing can reduce tooth decay as much as 40 percent. So, using products with fluoride is a good idea. However, mouth rinses are not recommended for children under six. Children should use only a pea-size dab of fluoride toothpaste on the brush to avoid fluoride overdosing. Tartar control toothpaste will reduce tartar (a buildup of hardened plaque) above the gum line. Anti-plaque rinses approved by the American Dental Association contain chemical agents that may help bring early gum disease under control. These rinses can be a helpful addition to brushing and flossing.

Periodontal Procedures


What are the advantages of dental implants?

Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. They can help prevent the bone loss and gum recession that often accompanies bridgework or dentures. In addition, they don't sacrifice they quality of your adjacent teeth like a bridge because neighboring teeth are not altered to support the implant. Implants are secure and offer freedom from the clicks and wobbles of dentures and the success rate of implants is highly predictable. More about dental implants

How do I care for my dental implants?

Dental implants are like your own teeth and will require the same care. In order to keep your implant clean and plaque-free, brushing and flossing still apply. Request a free brochure on dental implants.


How can I avoid surgery for my periodontal disease?

Depending on how far your periodontal disease has progressed, treatment can vary widely. If caught in the early stages, simple procedures are done that will remove the plaque and calculus from below the gum line and eliminate the infection-causing bacteria. If these diseases have advanced to the point where the periodontal pockets are deep and the supporting bone is lost, surgery might be necessary. You may have heard about new products on the market that claim to cure periodontal disease. Oftentimes, they do not replace traditional periodontal therapy. Rather, the intent of these products is to improve the effectiveness of traditional therapies.

Will periodontal surgery hurt?

New treatment options using refined techniques can be performed comfortably as office procedures. Improvements in medications, local anesthesia, anxiety and pain control, and, in some cases, conscious sedation, are available to make your treatment more pleasant and comfortable. 


What is maintenance therapy?

Maintenance or supportive periodontal therapy is an ongoing program designed to prevent periodontal disease from recurring for patients who have undergone periodontal treatment. This ongoing phase of treatment will allow us to assess your periodontal health and make sure infection stays under control. During maintenance therapy, your mouth is examined, new calculus and plaque are removed, and, if necessary your teeth are polished and your bite is checked.

How often do I need maintenance therapy?

The answer varies from person to person. We  will tailor a schedule that best helps to protect your periodontal health. The intervals between visits may range from every few weeks to four times per year, in addition to check ups by your general dentist. 


What is root scaling and planing?

This is a non-surgical procedure where we remove plaque and tartar from below the gum line. Tooth root surfaces are cleaned and smoothed with specially designed instruments. It is important to remove the plaque and tartar from the pockets, because aside from the bacterial toxins that irritate the gums, plaque and the rough surfaces of tartar make it easier for bacteria to get a foothold.


What can be done to improve the look of my "gummy" smile?

Crown lengthening (link from new procedures section) is a procedure to remove excess gum tissue to expose more of the "crown" of the tooth. Your gumline can be sculpted to give your new smile just the right look.

What can be done to correct my "long" teeth or receding gums?

Soft tissue grafts (link from new procedures section) and other root coverage procedures are designed to cover exposed roots, to reduce further gum recession and to protect your vulnerable roots from decay. During this procedure, Dr. Allen takes gum tissue from your palate or another donor source to cover the exposed root. This can be done for one tooth or several teeth to even your gum line and reduce sensitivity.

Periodontal Disease and General Health


What is the relationship between periodontal disease and respiratory disease?

More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may put people at increased risk for respiratory disease. What we do know is that infections in the mouth, like periodontal disease, are associated with increased risk of respiratory infection. An analysis of research has revealed that periodontal (gum) disease may be a far more serious threat to your health than previously realized. Healthy gums, healthy body

How does periodontal disease increase my risk for heart disease?

Several theories exist to explain the link between periodontal disease and heart disease. One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is characterized by a thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries due to the buildup of fatty proteins. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks. Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease. Periodontal disease and heart disease

Can periodontal disease increase my risk for having a premature baby?

Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may affect pregnancy outcomes. What we do know is that periodontal disease is an infection and all infections are cause for concern among pregnant women because they pose a risk to the health of the baby. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, be sure to include a periodontal evaluation with a periodontist as part of your prenatal care. Pregnancy and periodontal disease

Women and Periodontal Disease

What is the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes?

For years we've known that people with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes. Recently, research has emerged that suggests that the relationship goes both ways periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar. More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease can make it more difficult to control blood sugar. What we do know is that severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts diabetics at increased risk for diabetic complications. If you are among the 16 million Americans in the US who live with diabetes, or are at risk for diabetes or periodontal disease, see a periodontist for a periodontal evaluation. Periodontal disease and diabetes


Joseph A. Allen, D. D. S., P.A.
11410 North Kendall Drive
Suite 310
Miami, FL 33176
TEL: 1-305-595-4117
FAX: 1-305-595-4118

Copyright © 2002 J.A.Allen, D.D.S.