- Published on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 02:39
- Written by Rie Nakanishi - Special to the Town Crier
Any new business in Los Altos means additional services for local residents. Mark Beckstead, D.D.S., the owner and principal manager of Mid-Peninsula Periodontics, a business relocated to downtown Los Altos, offers innovation in periodontal treatment.
Beckstead, a Los Altos resident, practiced periodontics in Palo Alto from 1991 until he moved his business to Los Altos approximately a year ago.
Working closely with dentists in the community who refer patients to his office, he provides services intended to make patients' periodontal experiences as comfortable and pleasant as possible.
"I think it's a great time to be a patient in a periodontal office because there've been a lot of advances that made treatment easy for patients," Beckstead said.
But what exactly is a periodontist and what does a periodontist do?
"We treat everything around the teeth," he said. "Whereas general dentists handle all the general need of patients, we've focused our attention on the supporting structure around the teeth."
One of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association, periodontics treats gum diseases, and gum recession and fits dental implants.
For a long time, treating periodontal disease with conventional methods equaled pain. Pain was no myth in periodontal practices – it was fact. But with technological advances in recent years, periodontal procedures now involve less cutting, peeling and stitching of the gums.
Finally, intense pain is becoming a myth in such practices, Beckstead said.
For example, in treating gum recession, today Beckstead often uses allograft tissue from a tissue bank instead of employing an earlier method, which required obtaining the graft tissue from a patient's own mouth.
Recent research supports the use of laser therapy in the treatment of gum diseases.
"This is a real benefit for patients who are nervous about conventional gum surgery – either they heard bad things about it or they are afraid to have gum surgery done," he said. "The (laser) treatment itself is less invasive, easier to recover from and there's little discomfort with it."
To make patients' experiences even more comfortable and less painful, Beckstead offers intravenous sedation in his practice – the process of releasing medication directly into a patient's vein to make him or her consciously sleep during the surgery.
"Our emphasis is trying to make each patient's experience here as positive as possible," Beckstead said. "We help people feel relaxed by giving them all the information they need to make decisions about their health."
Many patients who are sedated don't remember anything about the procedure, he added. If a patient doesn't want to be sedated, Beckstead will provide other choices appropriate for the treatment.
Recent scientific studies confirm an association, or perio-systemic link, between gum and systemic diseases, according to Beckstead.
For instance, diabetics who do not balance their blood sugars carefully tend to have gum disease, and reciprocally, patients who have gum disease may also have poorly controlled blood-glucose levels. Links between gum disease and coronary artery disease have also been found. Mothers of preterm or low-birth-weight babies tend to have periodontal diseases, too.
Pain or fear might not be an adequate reason to reject or neglect the treatment of periodontal disease anymore. Taking care of the gums and practicing good oral health can save the teeth.
"This is a great time for patients who have been reluctant to see a periodontist and go through treatment," Beckstead said. "Technology is giving us (more choices) to make going to treatment easy. It's a great time for perio."
Mid-Peninsula Periodontics is located at 20 First St., Suite 200.
For more information, call 941-7300 or visit www.periodocs.com.