Why do you believe it is important to proactively diagnose periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is extremely important to diagnose since it can have detrimental effects on your dental health and body. The gums and bone are the “basic foundation” for teeth. Periodontal disease can lead to bone loss, inflammation, bleeding, loose teeth, and an abscess. In turn, any one of these situations also has a systemic effect on your health.
I explain periodontal disease like this: Periodontitis is a “silent disease,” almost like heart disease. Many times, people don’t have symptoms and are unaware they have periodontal disease, and therefore, time goes go by without treatment. Then, one day a patient comes in with a severe abscess or pain and they need emergency treatment.
I emphasize the importance of regular checkups, periodontal screenings, x-rays, and hygiene visits with their general dentist. If periodontal issues are ignored, then you are at an increased risk of losing your teeth and replacement options can be quite expensive. I tell patients spend your money wisely! Try to save as many teeth as possible because you are better in the long run!
What obstacles do you face in getting patients to agree to treatment and how do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I face as a periodontist is that patients tell me they don’t feel anything, and therefore, they don’t feel the need to fix it. It is a common statement amongst my patients, and they find treatment to be expensive. My response is that when your arteries are getting clogged, do you feel or know that is happening before you suddenly have a heart attack? They tend to ponder and realize what I am saying, and they inquire more. Showing them intraoral photos of their mouth and any visual representations are key. I also try to show photos of procedures that I have performed in the past so they can assess what their outcome would be. I try to break their treatment down into phases, so they don’t get overwhelmed with long appointments and a huge financial constraint. Finances are also a big obstacle that we face and we have to find ways to work out a system so they can afford it.
How do you incorporate the Perio Protect Method® in your treatment protocols?
I started incorporating Perio Protect in my practice when I noticed that the gingival health in my patients was noticeably better than without it. I deliver these trays to my patients with 4-5mm pockets where there is persistent bleeding and inflammation and plaque, but where the patient does not require periodontal surgery. I also have patients who could not afford or are not candidates for surgery, such as cancer patients, etc. It is the least invasive method of maintaining my patients. It’s been a game changer for me with patients who are getting osseous surgery and they wear the trays during the healing phase. In those patients, I have noticed a reduction in plaque, bleeding, and the tissues are more firm, pink, and stippled. I believe that my surgery has an improved outcome compared to my cases without the trays. I also love getting feedback from my patients who really appreciate it! They tell me, “My teeth are whiter, feel better, and my gums stopped bleeding.” I love it and my patients love it; we are both happy!
Shalini Sethi, DDS, is a highly skilled periodontist who has been practicing in private practice for more than 15 years. Her expertise includes a wide range of periodontal surgeries such as dental implants, full-mouth rehabilitation, teeth-in-a-day, periodontal disease treatment, and oral cosmetic surgery. Dr. Sethi attended the University of Maryland College Park, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. After graduating college, Dr. Sethi attended the University of Maryland at Baltimore Dental School and then went on to complete a one-year general residency at the Miami VA hospital. Dr. Sethi developed a passion for surgery after training at the VA hospital. She then was accepted into the prestigious three-year residency at the world-renowned Periodontics program at the University of Pennsylvania. She trained with the masters and innovators of Periodontics and has expanded her clinical knowledge to become a speaker and consultant for implant companies as well as training other doctors in surgeries.
Dr. Sethi also loves to help people and travel, and is able to intertwine her passions by going on dental mission trips to Vietnam and the Dominican Republic with Operation Smile. She contributes her dental expertise to the under-served population and assisting with cleft lip and palate surgeries. She has also participated in local community services that help patients with no dental insurance.
Dr. Sethi is a native of Maryland and has been named one of Baltimore’s Top Doctors for 2013, 2019, and 2021. She loves being a clinician and most importantly developing a comfortable relationship between her and the patients.