General Dentistry and Periodontics: A Partnership for the Future

07 Mar 2017 Mahnaz Rashti, DDS
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Within the $11 billion cosmetic surgery industry, anti-aging cosmetic dentistry is one of the fastest growing fields. Periodontal plastic surgery, which often includes dental implants, is playing a particularly vital role in this rapidly expanding space.

The procedure not only is highly desired, it is also one of the longest lasting cosmetic options available to patients. However, the current partnership between general dentistry and periodontics is not yet established enough to allow practices to take full advantage of this opportunity.

As the overall patient demographic continues to increase in age, the demand for dental implants and periodontal plastic surgery also will continue to surge. Yet the issue is that most patients are dangerously uninformed when selecting the proper dental professional to perform these highly specialized procedures.

For instance, only a periodontal dentist is trained specifically in treating the tissues and bone responsible for holding the teeth in place and, thus, is the best candidate for performing periodontal plastic surgery, full-mouth reconstructions, and dental implants. Since there are no laws in place to prevent general dentists from performing periodontal plastic surgery and placing dental implants, many patients are being systematically exploited.

In My Practice

Every month, dozens of patients come through the doors of my periodontal practice in Beverly Hills requesting full-mouth reconstructions. While many of these patients are seeking periodontal help for the first time, some come requiring revisions of previous implants gone wrong. Most often, they do not understand why their dental implants did not last. They are confused and upset over the time and money spent on a procedure that no longer benefits them.

Most of the time, I can trace this misstep back to a lack of communication between the general dentist and the periodontist. The key issue is that serious health issues are being answered with a purely cosmetic approach. This is a lose-lose scenario for both the periodontist, who will now have to perform an intensive full mouth revision, and the general dentist, who has missed out on the opportunity of establishing a long-term patient-doctor relationship.

I tell my patients again and again that a tree will not grow on bad soil. In my 20 years of experience as a practicing periodontist, I have seen hundreds of patients who have wasted their money on ineffective and unnecessary cosmetic dental work, while neglecting severe health issues.

Expanding Your Practice

Yes, periodontal plastic surgery and dental implants are both lucrative and highly in-demand, but it will do little to serve both the dentist and the patient in the long haul if the dental professional performing the procedure is not properly trained and specialized in periodontics. That being said, I believe it is an extremely intelligent and proactive choice for general dentists to consider expanding their practice to include proper periodontal care, whether by partnership with a qualified periodontist or by opting for periodontal training of their own.

Within the 3 years of postgraduate periodontal training, dentists explore a whole new dimension of oral medicine that helps them connect the solutions for periodontal and gum-related problems with visible cosmetic results. While approximately 40% of adult Americans have some level of gum disease, most of them are still unaware of the medical and cosmetic risks that come with untreated periodontal problems. Hence, this is a specialty that will benefit close to half of the adult patients seen in this country.

A closer relationship between general dentists and periodontists will benefit patients and help dental businesses and practices establish a more sustainable future together. As is the case with most fields of medicine, we are able to provide much more robust and satisfying results when we implement mutually nurturing partnerships, making the most out of our medical and scientific knowledge and experience to achieve the best possible results.

Dr. Rashti received her DDS degree from the College of Dentistry of New York University in 1994. She then spent 2 years treating patients in the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration Hospital and completed her general practice residency. Her passion for periodontics inspired her to then complete a 3-year postgraduate program at the Veterans Administration-UCLA Medical Center in the field of periodontics and dental implants. She specializes in dental implants, periodontal medicine, and periodontal plastic and reconstructive dentistry. Her experience in conscious sedation, knowledge, and skills in periodontal medicine adds a special dimension to her ability to treat patients with many needs, including phobic patients. She can be reached at her practice's website, dentalimplant90210.com

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