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What are periodontal diseases?

The word periodontal comes from the greek word for around, "peri", and tooth, "odont", so it literally means around the tooth. Characterized by chronic bacterial infection, periodontal disease destroys the natural, strong attachment between the gums and teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. There are several forms of periodontal disease, including gingivitis (mild), aggressive periodontitis, chronic periodontitis, periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases, and necrotizing periodontal disease.

Am I at risk for developing periodontal disease?

There are many people in America who already have periodontal disease and aren't aware of it. Everyone is at risk of developing gum disease, though there are risk factors. Take this self-assessment quiz from The American Academy of Periodontology to find out more.

Who is a periodontist?

A periodontist is a dentist with additional, special training in the detection, prevention, and treatment of gum disease, as well as in the placement of dental implants. In addition to dental school, periodontists receive three years of extensive training in these areas of dentistry. A periodontist can also perform many cosmetic dentistry procedures to help you achieve the esthetically pleasing smile you've always wanted, including gum re-contouring and porcelain veneers. Your dentist may refer you to a periodontist because of advanced gum disease, though you don't need a referral to make an appointment. You may choose to visit a periodontists, like Dr. Kakkar, or recommend a friend or family member see us, too.

Are tobacco use and periodontal disease related?

Yes, research indicates that tobacco used in any form may be one of the most significant factors in the development and advancement of gum disease. With issues such as more hardened calculus and deeper pockets between teeth and gums, smokers are also much more likely than non-smokers to lose the bone and tissue that support teeth.

What are periodontal pockets?

Your gums should fit snugly around your teeth, protecting teeth roots and jawbone from invading bacteria. When gum disease sets in, it breaks down the supporting tissues forming pockets around the teeth. Without intervention, these pockets become deeper, leaving bacteria to settle in and causing infection. This cycle continues until, eventually, affected teeth must be extracted.

Does periodontal disease have a genetic component?

According to the most recent research, yes. Up to 30% of the American population may be genetically susceptible to periodontal disease. Even with good home care habits, people with genetic predispositions are up to six times more likely to develop gum disease. Genetic testing can help to identify those patients at higher risk for developing gum disease before they ever display symptoms. Prevention and early treatment are key in controlling periodontal disease and its effects.

Is periodontal disease communicable?

Gum disease may actually be contagious. Clinical studies have found periodontal diease-causing bacteria are present in saliva and may be passed from person to person. For this reason, treatment and prevention of gum disease may involve entire families. If one family member is diagnosed with gum disease, the American Academy of Periodontology recommends that all family members see a dentist for screening.

How can I prevent periodontal problems?

Regular visits to your dentist may be the single most important weapon you have in the fight against gum disease. Daily brushing helps to reduce plaque build-up, but can't prevent it completely. It's important to have a dental professional remove the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) you may not see or be able to reach. Also, make sure to brush twice a day, and floss once a day, to help keep teeth and gums healthy. If you have questions about the best homecare products or brushing and flossing techniques, contact us. We're happy to help!

I'm over 55. Does this mean I'm more likely to get periodontitis?

Although aging increases your risk of developing peridontal disease considerably, gum disease isn't inevitable. There are other risk factors to consider, including overall health, immune status, medications, dry mouth, memory function, diminished movement, even changes in financial status. Learn more about oral health over 55 here.

When should I see Dr. Kakkar?

Anytime is a great time to see a periodontist like Dr. Kakkar! Gum disease can begin without symptoms and the best way to detect it is through a peridontal evaluation. It is especially important for you to visit a periodontist if you have any of the following:

  • red, swollen, tender gums
  • gums that bleed easily or pus between the teeth
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth, or loose separating teeth
  • a change in the way your teeth fit together wen you bite
  • a sore or irritation that does not heal within two weeks
  • if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant- low birth weight is a consequence of periodontal disease
  • if you have a family member with gum disease
  • if you have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, or osteoperosis
  • if you have a gummy smile and would like for your teeth to appear larger
  • if you are missing a tooth and are interested in a solid, long-lasting replacement option
  • if you are not satisfied with a previous restoration, such as bridgework or dentures

What can I expect at my first visit to a periodontal specialist?

When you visit our office for the first time, you can expect a full review of your medical and dental history. It's is very important to disclose any medications you are taking, or any conditions you are being treated for that could affect your periodontal health. You'll receive a comprehensive oral and periodontal exam and we'll assess how your bit comes together. A tooth-by-tooth inspection for any looseness as well as pocket depth measurements also help to determine the health of your gums. If necessary, we'll take a full set of x-rays to check for possible bone loss.

What kinds of oral care products should I use?

The following suggestions work for most patients. To find out what's best for your unique situation, call our office for a consultation with Dr. Kakkar.

  • A soft bristled toothbrush allows you to reach all surfaces. Replace a toothbrush with bent or frayed bristles. A worn out toothbrush will not clean properly.
  • Electronic or sonic toothbrushes are good choices, and are safe and effective for the majority of dental patients.
  • Oral irrigators (water spraying tooth cleaners) are only effective at removing plaque when used in conjunction with proper brushing and flossing.
  • Use the rubber tip found on the handle of your toothbrush to massage gums after brushing and flossing.
  • Use plaque removal devices, such as interproximal (tiny brushes for between teeth) and interdental cleaners (sticks and picks for between teeth), with caution. Improper use can cause injury to the gums.

How should I choose oral care products?

Dr. Kakkar recommends oral care products that carry the American Dental Association's seal of approval. The ADA is a trusted name in product safety and effectiveness. Learn more about the ADA seal of approval here.


Does your office use lasers?

We use many kinds of lasers for precise, comfortable dentistry… DIAGNOdent is our cavity-detection laser. It will scan your teeth to find decay and areas prone to decay, and we will not have to inspect each of your teeth with a traditional dental hook.

Our soft-tissue laser allows us to treat gum disease, perform crown lengthening, harvest and place gum grafts, reduce gum tissue for esthetics, and do biopsies. You will need no stitches after laser surgery, and bleeding is minimal. Most patients recover more quickly after laser surgery than they do following traditional surgery.

Our hard tissue laser removes decay, replacing the traditional dental drill. We can also do bone grafts with this laser.

What are crowns in one visit?

With innovative technology, we can create custom crowns, inlays, and onlays in about an hour. This means that in just one visit, you can get a custom-made, all-white, reliable restoration. No temporary. No follow-up visit. It's that simple.

How can I improve my smile?

That sounds like an easy question to answer, but it isn't! Your smile is unique, and we won't compromise your individuality with smile enhancements. Smile design dentistry done right requires an initial consultation in which we will discuss your goals, preferences, and options for care. Generally speaking, we may suggest, teeth whitening, all-white restorations, and/or replacement teeth such as dental implants. After your comprehensive evaluation and consultation, we'll present a smile makeover plan for your new smile. We offer digital imaging for smile previews, as well.

Root Canals:

Am I a candidate for root canal therapy?

If you are experiencing moderate to severe tooth pain, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately. Patients who require root canal therapy usually have an infected tooth and significant pulp damage caused by an untreated cavity, which cause inflammation and often severe tooth pain.

What if I don't have the treatment?

If you leave an infected tooth untreated, eventually it will require extraction. It's never a good idea to walk around with an infected tooth, and once the pulp in your tooth is completely destroyed, it cannot heal. While some patients think they'd rather have the tooth removed than experience a root canal, it's always better to salvage the natural tooth when possible.

Will root canal therapy hurt?

Not with today's advanced analgesics and technology. In fact, the entire process can be so comfortable that many patients doze off. Oftentimes, root canal therapy can be completed in a single appointment. We simply clean out the diseased canal, fill it with a biologically-inert substance, seal it from further infection, and you're on your way. While some patients experience post-procedural soreness or slight tissue inflammation, these are controllable with over-the-counter analgesics. Follow-up care involves thorough home hygiene and regular dental visits for cleanings and checkups.

Dental Implants:

My smile is missing teeth. What do you suggest I do?

You'll need to first schedule a consultation with Dr. Kakkar. He can assess your oral health and discuss options for replacement teeth. In general, you can choose from crown and bridgework, partial or full dentures, or dental implants. As the most natural prosthetic to natural tooth structure, a dental implant offers the most long-lasting, comfortable, natural-looking choice.

What happens if missing teeth are not replaced?

Missing teeth can lead to a host of other problems, including additional tooth loss. Research shows that if a missing tooth is not replaced, up to 20% of adjacent teeth will fall out in the next 4 to 8 years. Missing teeth also cause remaining teeth to shift, causing spaces between teeth, food impaction, bite collapse, chewing alteration, and TMJ pain. You’re also more susceptible to gum disease, a serious health condition that can significantly shorten your life span.

What are my options to replace missing teeth?

We offer bridgework, partials, full dentures, and implant restorations to replace missing teeth. Learn more about these services on our services page, then call for a consultation. With X-rays, intraoral photos, and a thorough assessment of your dentition, the dentist can help you decide which replacement option will be best for you.


Are bridges expensive?

Bridges are certainly not the cheapest dental procedure, but patients must keep in mind that a bridge will last for years. Plus, your bridge is made exclusively to fit your mouth and is crafted from high-quality, expensive materials. All things considered, and because the purpose of a bridge is to improve both your bite and your appearance, we think it's safe to say bridges are well worth the cost.

How do I take care of my bridge?

Your bridge needs to be cleaned daily in order to prevent bad breath, decay, and gum disease. It will also be necessary to clean under the false tooth daily, and we will show you how to use a floss threader or special floss to better care for your implant.

Are their different types of bridges?

There are a variety of bridge types crafted from different materials. There are also varying fixing methods among bridges. We will consider your specific situation and needs and decide which bridge and fixing method works best for you.

Experience dentistry at its finest. Dr. Kakkar and our team deliver the contemporary solutions and superior care our patients deserve. Call our Hackettstown, NJ dental office today to make an appointment. We serve Hackettstown, Long Valley, Flanders, Blairstown, Budd Lake, Chester, Belvidere, Washington township, Washington, Randolph, Newton, Succasuna-Kenvil, Mansfield township, Sparta, Clinton Township, Phillipsburg, Easton, Stroudsburg and the surrounding communities. Our office is conveniently located where Warren, Morris and Sussex Counties meet.