periodontics

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Related to periodontists: periodontal disease, prosthodontists

dentistry

dentistry, treatment and care of the teeth and associated oral structures. Dentistry is mainly concerned with tooth decay, disease of the supporting structures, such as the gums, and faulty positioning of the teeth. Like medicine and surgery, it is practiced in specialized fields: oral surgery, orthodontics (corrective dentistry), periodontics (diseases of the gums), prosthodontics (partial or total tooth replacement), endodontics (treatment of dental pulp chamber and canals), and pedodontics (dental problems of children).

Some researchers believe that there is clear evidence of dental drilling in human teeth found in Pakistan that date to 7000 B.C., but unquestioned evidence of dentistry is found only from subsequent millenia. Excellent crowns and bridges were made by the Etruscans in the 7th cent. B.C. At about that time, teeth were being extracted in Asia Minor as a cure for bodily ills and diseases. Skills achieved by the Etruscans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were largely lost during the Middle Ages, when barbers and roving bands of charlatans practiced unskilled dentistry at marketplaces and fairs. Abulcasis, a Spanish Moor, was one of the few in his time who studied dental surgery, leaving behind instruments and theories quite advanced for the 10th cent. A.D.

French scientist Pierre Fauchard is considered the founder of modern dentistry; by the end of the 17th cent., he was making fillings of lead, tin, and gold and devising artificial dentures. In the 18th cent., German scientist Philip Pfaff was making dentures of plaster of Paris, and shortly thereafter the French discovered how to mold porcelain into dentures. The first American to make use of this process was Charles Willson Peale; he who made the now-famous set of false teeth for George Washington.

As dentistry progressed, the center of accomplishment shifted from Europe to the United States. The first dental school in the world was established in Baltimore in 1840. The development of local and general anesthesia, the invention of the drilling machine, discovery of better substances for filling teeth (amalgam and gold), and, most importantly, the ability to devise replacements closely approximating natural teeth in function and appearance contributed much to the rapid growth of dentistry as a science and an art. Adding fluoride to the local water supply (fluoridation) has made teeth more resistant to cavities; annual applications of fluoride and clear liquid plastic to children's teeth also make them more decay resistant.

New developments include the implantation of artificial teeth or binding posts into the gums or jawbone; antibiotic fiber for periodontal disease; root canal surgery, a procedure that ameliorates pain while permitting teeth to remain in place; and nearly painless lasers to repair dental cavities, usually making local anesthesia unnecessary. In the early 1990s, it was reported that five patients of a Florida dentist with AIDS became infected with HIV; as a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ruled that full protective garb (gloves, mask, glasses or goggles, coat) be worn by dental personnel to protect patients and themselves.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

periodontics

[‚per·ē·ə′dän·tiks]
(medicine)
The branch of dentistry devoted to diseases of the gingiva (gum tissue), alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, and cementum.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
"Those who suspect they have gum disease should schedule an appointment with a local periodontist," Dr.
Secondly, a substantial number of periodontists have already adopted the use of low magnification in their practices and recognized its value.
While most implants are still performed mainly by oral surgeons, prosthodontists and periodontists, a growing number of general dentists take dental implant courses in order to provide this service.
Tofe said the company currently has 10 periodontists implanting the product, including two in the Denver area, and that he is aggressively seeking new patients.
"We have titles for physicians, physical therapists, podiatrists, and most of the dental specialties including two for periodontists."
Nearly 65 percent of periodontists believe that nutrition plays a major role in the status of their patients' periodontal health, according to a poll conducted recently by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP).
Before that, he co-founded a dental practice in southeastern Michigan and was its president and one of its practicing periodontists for 20 years.
"Not all periodontists consider our definition of periodontal disease to be significant periodontal disease," Dr.
"Not all periodontists consider our definition of periodontal disease to be significant periodontal disease," she said at the meeting, which was also sponsored by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Periodontists are the dental professionals who specialize in treating periodontal disease.
They treated 90 inner-city clinic patients who had advanced gum disease; in every case, other experienced periodontists had recommended surgery.