Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Periodontist Visit

Today I went to see Dr. Jeffrey Freedman, a periodontist recommended to me by colleagues at work and Consumer's Checkbook. He was very nice and walked me through the current status of my gums and the possible actions which can be taken. He also gave me a little tour of my mouth and gums. My upper gums are in good shape. He noticed no bleeding, swelling or recession. My lower gums aren't bad. He identified two teeth with recession, the two first bicuspids. The recessions are 1 mm (left) and 2 mm (right). He told me about the different parts of the gum. The lower, soft tissue and the upper, firm tissue. Most of my front, lower teeth have lost their firm gum tissue, though my canines are still okay. My upper teeth still have a good amount of the firm gum tissue. He told me about three similar invasive approaches:

  1. transplant mouth roof surface skin on top of existing gum - he said this was the most traditional action and takes 10-12 days to fully recover
  2. transplant mouth roof underneath skin under existing gum - this increases bulk of the existing firm gum
  3. use cadaver skin under existing gum - same as #2 except using skin from a dead body
Dr. Freedman said that my current condition is mild and it would be perfectly reasonable to wait and observe. This is the option I chose. Slightly frustrating was the fact that he didn't think there was much I could do to prevent the problem from getting worse. He said to continue my usual brushing. He said to continue to use a very soft brush and to not press hard when brushing. He also suggested to not overthink teeth and gum care. I'm not sure I can do that :-)

I'm guessing I won't see tremendously different advice from another periodontist. I'm planning to see a different dentist for my next check-up. At least I'll get another opinion on whether I can do anything to help the situation. For now, I've eliminated sugary carbonated beverages (Coke), greatly reduced my acidic liquid consumption (black tea) and am trying a toothpaste and mouthwash that are supposedly good for dry mouth (my mouth dries out overnight). Dr. Freedman said I can't do anything to get the gum tissue to regrow, but I'd like to at least know what I can do to minimize gum loss.

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