For more than 100 years the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry has provided exceptional dental education and service to Nebraskans and beyond through premier educational programs, innovative research and clinical care.
From regular checkups and cleanings to braces and dentures, the dental college provides the highest quality patient care in all areas at affordable costs. To find out more about programs and services visit the website at http://www.unmc.edu/dentistry or call 402-472-1301.
|Amy Killeen, D.D.S., is a periodontist, or a dentist that specializes in treating diseases of the gum tissue. Her practice involves treating periodontal (gum) disease, as well as performing esthetic procedures and dental implants. Dr. Killeen is an assistant professor in the department of surgical specialties at the UNMC College of Dentistry in Lincoln. When not teaching at the College, Dr. Killeen treats patients at her private practice, Lincoln Periodontics, and at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Omaha.|
| What is a periodontist?
“A periodontist is a dentist who has gone on to specialize and received extra training in the treatment of the tissues around the teeth. So periodontists don’t necessarily treat the teeth themselves, but they treat the soft tissue, the gums, the ligaments that holds the tooth into the socket and then the bone around the tooth. So periodontists treats primarily periodontal disease or gum disease but we also treat abnormalities of the gum tissue such as recession defects and the like. We also place implants and do biopsies. You might be referred to your periodontist if your general dentist notices an abnormality in your gum tissues or bone around your teeth or if you’re suffering from periodontal or gum disease.”
| What is periodontal disease?
“Periodontal disease is essentially a bacterial infection of the tissues around the teeth so the gum tissues as well as the bone and the ligament. Ultimately what happens is this bacteria basically sets up an inflammatory reaction in the gum tissue that over time since it’s a chronic disease, over time it can ultimately lead to bone loss around your teeth. As this carries on over the years typically more and more bone is lost around the individual teeth ultimately causing them to become mobile and a tooth can be lost because it lacks the support of the bone. Now we can treat this in the office typically but you’re never really cured of periodontal disease. You’re mostly just brought to a state of stability and then you have to maintain it pretty much for the rest of your life. It’s very similar to diabetes or arthritis. You’re never really cured of those diseases but you’re brought to stability and maintained.”
|How is periodontal disease most effectively treated?
“Periodontal disease is typically treated most effectively by the process called scaling and root cleaning or a deep cleaning. You might have heard your dentist or hygienist refer to this. What this is, it’s a deeper cleaning than what you might have previously received at the dental office. Usually an anesthesia is involved so you’re nice and numb and when your dentist or your periodontist or your hygienist will clean all those surfaces of your teeth, especially the root surface because that’s where the bacteria and the plaque and the buildup is likely to be. Once those surfaces have been nicely cleaned, then your body can heal and hopefully gain some reattachment of the gums back in to the tooth. There are many ways to treat periodontal disease, some of them surgical, some of them non-surgical but the scaling and root cleaning or the deep cleaning is typically the first step in your treatment of gum disease or periodontal disease.”
|What are some other procedures performed in a periodontal office?
“Other procedures that we perform in periodontal offices aside from scaling and root cleaning are maintenances. We often have a team of hygienists that work with us to keep our stable periodontal patients stable. And they typically see their hygienist every three months. We also do a fair amount of surgeries in a periodontal office. We treat defects of the gum tissue and of the bone, so a lot of times that involves grafting which can be soft tissue like gum grafting or it can even be bone grafting on certain occasions. We also do surgical procedures such as biopsies of the soft tissue of the gums and we can also do implants and other things that might be required for orthodontics.”
| How and when should a patient see a periodontist?
“A patient should see a periodontist typically on the referral of their general dentist. So if you’re brushing your teeth and you notice some bleeding gums or some bad breath or just something that strikes you as being a little different, consult with your general dentist first and ask them if you need to be referred to a periodontist. They will let you know if it is within reason or not. That is far as periodontal disease goes. If you notice some recession or shrinking of your gum tissue, that’s another reason to come see the periodontist. And we can look towards maybe repairing those defects. But again, it always starts with your general dentist so make sure you have open communication with them and be an educated consumer and know if you need to be referred or not.”
COD Fast Facts:
The UNMC College of Dentistry at a glance.
Proud History: For 13 of the past 18 years the college ranks highest in incoming GPA of any dentistry program in the USA.
Quality Education: Our students consistently shine with high board scores in both the dental and dental hygiene programs and the college offers strong residency programs in endodontics, general dentistry, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry and periodontics.
Service: Our commitment to service is evident in the strong clinical community service programs that provide outreach to underserved populations across the state.