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What Is Periodontics?

Periodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on gum tissue and other supporting structures for teeth. With an emphasis on disease prevention and improving gum health, a periodontist offers a unique approach if you are looking for surgical or non-surgical options to improve the health and aesthetics your smile.

Ian Elliott, DDS is a periodontist who provides specialized disease and cosmetic treatments for the soft tissues and bone that support your teeth. If you are seeking advanced laser treatment for gum disease, would like to improve the aesthetics of your gums, or would like to find out if you qualify for dental implants, contact our Naperville office to schedule a consultation.


What Is the Difference between a Periodontist and a Dentist?

A general dentist is a dental care provider who diagnoses, treats, and manages your oral health. For more complex treatments and oral surgeries, your general dentist will refer you to a specialist. A periodontist is a dental expert who works on advanced cases of gum disease and provides expert surgical and non-surgical solutions for periodontal concerns that are outside of the realm of a general dentist. A periodontist will perform advanced procedures such as:

Professional Treatment for Gum Disease

smiling young woman sitting on a dental chair

Once gum disease is diagnosed, immediate treatment is necessary to stop the progression of the disease and restore oral health. Treatment plans vary depending on the severity of the disease and the underlying factors that caused it. Procedures offered by Dr. Elliott include:

Periodontal scaling and root planing - Depending on the severity of gum disease, most treatment plans begin with a non-surgical procedure of scaling and root planing, which is often referred to as deep cleaning or gum therapy. Dr. Elliott uses Laser Assisted Regeneration (LANAP) to skillfully and efficiently clean between the gums and teeth down the roots to the bone. Depending on how far the disease has progressed and how much of your gum tissue is affected, your treatment may consist of several appointments.

Pocket reduction surgery - When patients have advanced gum disease, Dr. Elliott may suggest pocket reduction surgery to decrease the gap created when pockets, or gaps, form between the tooth and gum tissue. If left alone, the pockets will continue to increase in size. Deep pockets collect food particles and foster unhealthy bacteria, which are difficult to remove with just brushing and flossing at home. This procedure can remove excess and inflamed tissue to minimize the gap and reduce damage to the bone.

Pocket reduction surgery and other regenerative procedures can restore connective tissue and prevent tooth loss. Once your soft tissue and jaw bone are disease free, Dr. Elliott recommends frequent professional cleanings to prevent the disease from returning.

The 3 Types of Periodontitis

1. Chronic periodontitis is the most common and affects adults more than children. Plaque buildup causes a slow, destruction deterioration of the gums and bone and will lead to tooth loss if not treated.

2. Aggressive Periodontitis begins in childhood or the teen years in a small number of people. It is often seen in families suggesting there is a strong genetic component to the condition.

3. Necrotizing Periodontal Disease is when the gum tissue dies cutting off the ligaments and supporting bone due to necrosis, or a lack of blood supply. The result is a very serious infection that needs consistent and aggressive treatment to maintain oral health.

Treating Gum Disease with LANAP, Laser Therapy

Laser periodontal therapy replaces traditional scaling and root planning tools with lasers to completely remove plaque, tartar, bacteria, and diseased tissue. Exposing the tooth surface with laser therapy allows for complete removal of the tartar and bacteria that cause inflammation. New tissue growth is stimulated and attaches to the tooth, providing strength and stability.

Benefits of LANAP include:


All patients, including those who are taking certain medications or have preexisting conditions like diabetes, HIV, or hemophilia, can receive gum disease therapy safely with advanced laser therapy.

Quick Recovery

With LANAP, there is no cutting or need for sutures so that recovery time can be decreased. Traditional surgery can take weeks to heal, but the same procedure done using labor therapy can be substantially better in just 24 hours.


The laser removes and cauterizes soft tissue all at once, which helps to eliminate the discomfort associated with traditional gum surgery. There is less bleeding during the procedure and little to no bruising.

Improved Results

Patients who have had laser surgery can sustain healthy gums for several years when combined with proper at-home care and continued follow-up visits to their hygienist.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an oral infection created by an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth which leads to plaque and tartar. When these sticky substances stay on your teeth, they promote decay that grows and moves move under the gum line. There are various reasons why gum disease occurs, such as infrequent dental visits and poor hygiene, which are the leading causes of periodontal disease. Other factors that increase the risk are:

  • Smoking and chewing tobacco encourages tartar buildup and will impair blood flow making it more difficult for the soft tissue to heal
  • Crooked and overlapped teeth make it hard to keep them clean
  • Poor nutrition, such as a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates and absence of important vitamins, minerals, and water lead to tissue breakdown
  • Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can affect blood flow making gums more susceptible to disease
  • Diabetes negatively affects circulation and the ability of your gums to heal
  • Cancer and treatments to fight it can weaken the immune system
  • Dry mouth and open-mouth breathing dehydrate your gums and create a breeding ground for bacteria
  • Certain medications and genetics can also increase the risk of disease

What are the Signs of Gum Disease?

concept image of healthy gums and periodontal disease

Also known as a ‘silent disease,’ most adults have had some form of gum disease in their lifetime. The beginning stage, gingivitis, is the only one that can be reversed. This means that once the infection is gone, there is no lingering damage left to your teeth and gums. Once gum disease has progressed under the soft tissue, it will create deep pockets between the teeth and gums. The damage to your gums cannot be reversed completely.

Depending on how far the disease had advanced, you may notice signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Tender and bleeding gums
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Pain when chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Receding gum line
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Longer-appearing teeth
  • Loose teeth

The longer gum disease is left untreated, the further it spreads. Bacteria and infection will continue down to the roots of the teeth and into the jaw bone, destroying the connective tissue holding your teeth in place. Gum disease can also move to neighbor teeth and continue to spread. Without professional treatment, the infection can enter the bloodstream and contribute to increasing your risk factor for other diseases such as diabetes, heart attacks, and arthritis.

The best way to fight periodontitis and the related complications are with a good oral hygiene routine practiced consistently and more frequent professional cleanings. If you think you may be experiencing gum disease, schedule an appointment with us right away so we can help you restore your gum health.

What Is Crown Lengthening?

Crown lengthening is a surgical procedure performed by periodontists and oral surgeons to reduce gum tissue and sometimes bone to expose more of the tooth’s surface.

Crown lengthening typically takes under an hour to perform and only needs a local anesthetic for comfort. With lasers, the gum contouring procedure is done with minimal bleeding because the tissue is cauterized during the process. Less bleeding means you will heal faster and experience less pain.

Why Do I Need Crown Lengthening?

This procedure is performed for both cosmetic reasons and to improve gum disease. Sometimes referred to as periodontal plastic surgery or gum sculpting, crown lengthening can be done:

  1. To improve a gummy smile by exposing more of the tooth’s surface
  2. When there is not enough tooth surface to attach a restorative crown
  3. When tooth decay is found under the soft tissue

After the procedure, you may experience a little discomfort and swelling. These symptoms usually disappear within 24 hours, and you can take some over the counter pain relievers if necessary. We recommend eating soft foods and liquids for a few days until all sensitivity is gone. It is also important to use a very soft toothbrush and avoid using a mouthwash that contains alcohol.

Gum recontouring procedures like crown lengthening are permanent, and the removed tissue will not grow back. This makes it especially important to choose an experienced and trustworthy professional like Dr. Elliott.

Better Gum Health for Better Oral Health

Dr. Elliott works with a network of area dentists to help resolve complex gum treatments and dental implant surgeries. Whether you are referred here by your dentist or are looking for a specialist in Naperville to help you with advanced periodontal disease and other soft tissue and jaw bone conditions, contact the office of Ian Elliott, DDS today and schedule a consultation.