Mark J. Sebastian, DMD

Questions relating to Periodontal Disease

Questions relating to Dental Implants

General Questions

Questions relating to Periodontal Disease

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease (also known as periodontal infection, gum disease or pyorrhea) is an ongoing infection in the gums around your teeth. The cause of periodontal disease is infectious bacteria which gets deep into your gums.

This infection starts destroying the bone that supports your teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss. For more information, please see the section on Periodontal Disease under Patient Education.

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What are the symptoms of periodontal infection?

Because periodontal infection grows under your gums, you can have no symptoms at all. More advanced cases can result in some of the following symptoms:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Tooth sensitivity to heat/cold
  • Bad breath
  • Deep pockets around the teeth
  • Spaces between the teeth
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Gums receding around the teeth (longer looking teeth)

For more information, please see the section on Periodontal Disease under Patient Education.

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Why, all of a sudden, is my dentist sending me to a periodontist?

Periodontists have advanced training in the treatment of periodontal disease and dental implants.

Patients with periodontal infection have a lowered resistance to periodontal bacteria. This causes a continuing gum infection that can grow in bursts of activity. Some factors that can cause a dramatic increase in the severity of your periodontal disease are:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Dental plaque
  • Smoking
  • Genetic factors
  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Age
  • Illness

Two other important factors are:

  • Lack of regular dental checkups.
  • Lack of regular dental cleanings.

When your infection has a "burst" of growth, or when there are signs that this is may occur, your dentist may recommend periodontal treatment.

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How is periodontal disease treated?

Periodontal disease is an infection in the gums and jawbone. The goal of treatment is to remove this infection and prevent it from coming back. After your initial examination, we will completely explain your different options for treatment.

For more information, see the Periodontal Treatment section.

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Does periodontal treatment hurt?

One of our primary concerns is that you have a comfortable experience during treatment. Towards this end, we offer an extensive array of the latest techniques to minimize discomfort. Many of our patients come back stating they are amazed at how little discomfort they experienced.

  • For more information on the procedures themselves, see the Periodontal Treatment section.

  • For more information on the many ways we make your visit more comfortable, please see the section on Patient Concerns.

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Why must I start treatment right away?

Periodontal infection grows in "bursts of activity".

It is likely that you have been referred to us because your general dentist has noticed an increase in infection activity.

This infection eats away at the bone that supports your teeth (leading to tooth loss). If not treated, there can be a number of consequences. Please see the Patient Education section on the Dental & Medical Consequences of Periodontal Disease for a list of these.

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What can I do to prevent periodontal disease?

The most important aspect in preventing periodontal disease is removing the plaque from your teeth. Periodontal disease is an ongoing bacterial infection around your teeth. Bacterial plaque forms on your teeth, and you need to clean your mouth daily to remove this plaque before it hardens into deposits that are called “calculus” or “tartar”. Plaque hardening into calculus is the first step towards an ongoing bacterial infection which leads to periodontal disease.

You can remove this plaque by brushing and flossing your teeth daily and having regular dental visits. Brushing and flossing daily will help remove the plaque from your teeth before it hardens. Regular dental visits and professional cleanings will minimize the amount of calculus around your teeth and will help remove the calculus from your teeth in areas that you can’t reach with daily cleanings.

Your dentist can help you establish a program that will maintain your dental health and help prevent periodontal disease. This will include making sure that you brush and floss correctly, and your dentist can also recommend dental products for any special needs you may have.

You play the most important role in preventing periodontal disease, so please don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you may have about what you can do to prevent periodontal disease.

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Questions relating to Dental Implants

What are dental implants?

Implants are the most natural-like way to replace missing teeth. The implant itself is a post that is placed into your jawbone and acts just like a tooth root. This post provides an anchor for your general dentist to place crowns, bridges or other restorations.

We are experts in the placement of dental implants. Dental implants begin with an evaluation to decide if you are a good candidate for this procedure.

For more detailed information, please see the section on Dental Implants under Patient Education.

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Do implants work as well as natural teeth?

Dental implants function much better than removable teeth, (e.g. partials or dentures). Patients comment that dental implants are so natural in appearance and function that it is like having their natural teeth back. Today’s advancements make implants function within 90% of the efficiency of natural teeth in terms of both bite and feel.

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How much do dental implants cost?

The cost of implants varies from patient to patient, depending on the complexity of each case. As a general rule, however, the investment can be expected to be within the range of anyone who can afford fixed bridgework.

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How soon is it possible to eat after receiving dental implants?

The time between the placement of the implants and the final dental work placed on them is usually several months. A strict soft diet is necessary between placing the implant and placing the final dental work. Wearing of dentures or partial dentures may be limited since stress prior to several months healing immediately after implant placement could cause the implant to weaken and fail. As soon as the final dental work has been placed, you can resume normal eating again. After several months your family dentist will place the final dental work. The implants should then be "rock solid" and no eating restrictions are needed after that.

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General Questions

What is going to happen on my first visit?

On your first visit to our office, you will receive a periodontal examination. You should experience little, if any, discomfort during this examination. If necessary, x-rays will be taken to further evaluate any loss of bone around your teeth.

Afterwards, your findings and options for treatment will be thoroughly explained. At that time the doctor will answer any questions you may have.

Our goal is that you leave with a complete understanding of your condition and the treatment needed to restore you to optimum oral health.

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How much will treatment cost and will my insurance cover it?

Everyone deserves to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime. While periodontal treatment is not as costly as replacing natural teeth due to tooth loss, its cost can vary greatly depending upon your needs.

If you have dental insurance, this may provide full or partial coverage. Our office will contact your insurance company to learn what they will cover.

We feel that finances should never be an obstacle to treatment. For your convenience, we offer several payment options. We also have payment plans to suit your individual needs. Our insurance coordinator will be happy to answer any of your financial or insurance questions.

For more information see our Financial Policies or contact our insurance coordinator at (253) 941-6242.

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What are the medical consequences if I delay treatment?

Periodontal disease is an ongoing infection which becomes inflamed. When this inflammation gets into the bone around your teeth, it then enters your blood stream. From there it travels to other parts of the body and contributes to many medical problems.

Recent research has found that patients with periodontal inflammation are more than twice as likely to have heart disease and stroke.

To learn more about the medical consequences of periodontal inflammation, please see the Patient Education section on the Dental & Medical Consequences of Periodontal Disease.

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Do you use the latest equipment and techniques?

We keep ourselves up to date regarding equipment and periodontal procedures. You can be sure you will receive state-of-the-art care in our office.

Regarding sterilization, we believe that all procedures should be safe as well as comfortable. We use only the latest sterilization techniques. For more information on treatment techniques and sterilization see the section entitled "Special Equipment ".

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What other treatments do you provide?

Besides periodontal treatment and dental implants, we can perform a number of procedures, including:

  • Crown Lengthening
  • Gingival Contouring
  • Ridge Augmentation
  • Soft Tissue Grafting

For more information on these procedures, please see the Patient Education section.

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How is my family dentist important in my periodontal care?

Your family dentist knows your entire dental history, the condition of your teeth, and your future dental needs. Your family dentist is in charge of your overall dental care. We work closely with him or her to ensure you will receive the best possible dental care.

In many cases, your family dentist may do your preliminary periodontal treatment and a portion of your periodontal maintenance (dental hygiene visits) afterwards.

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Can I be sedated?

For those patients that would feel more comfortable with sedation, we offer a full range of services. Nitrous oxide and oral sedatives can be given to help you relax during your visit. Dr. Sebastian received his training in oral medication sedation thru the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation and has a Washington State Dental Board permit to provide in office oral medication sedation for dental patients.

We also offer closely-monitored conscious IV sedation. Just enough sedation is administered to allow you to be completely relaxed while still being aware of your surroundings. Afterwards, you will not remember your dental visit. Dr. Sebastian received his training in IV sedation at Duquesne University and has a Washington State Dental Board permit to provide in office IV sedation for dental patients.

In complex situations we can provide dental treatment in our office under general anesthesia. General anesthesia would be administered by a licensed anesthesiologist and is quite safe.

Your comfort is one of our primary concerns. If you have any questions about anesthesia or sedation, please do not hesitate to discuss these with us.

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Featured in Periodontist and Dental Implants Directory.

Our practice is easily accessible from the following surrounding areas: Auburn, Kent, Puyallup, Tacoma and Seattle, WA.
Periodontists are dental specialists who treat gum disease, place dental implants, do gum treatments and perform a number of other procedures.