Top Dentists 2010: Get Your Smile On
More than ever, we’re learning that good oral health affects the rest of our body’s systems. Good oral hygiene can prevent everything from bad breath to heart disease. Excellent dental specialists like the ones profiled here make it that much easier to have a healthy, happy mouth. We surveyed dentists from around the state to find out which of their peers they’d recommend to a loved one. Here’s what they said.
Research assistance by Katharine Gray Published May 11, 2010 at 11:58 AM
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(Note: The dentists profiled received the greatest number of nominations from their professional peers. Many excellent practitioners are not profiled and did not make the list that can be downloaded from page 3. Their exclusion should not diminish their fine reputations. General dentists will be included in a future issue. When looking for any new specialists, check for board certification.)
Periodontal disease is not a simple thing, Andrew Malinowski says. The many types of disease and the variables of each unique case make periodontal disease comparable to cancer in complexity. “There’s not just one cancer,” Malinowski says. “And there’s not just one periodontal disease.”
Worse, periodontists and physicians are finding that periodontal disease—essentially bacteria that cause rapid breakdown of gum and tooth structures—could be linked to heart attacks.
That’s where Malinowski comes in. More than 30 years in practice has armed him with the clinical expertise to tackle just about any degree of gum disease. “I’m like a troubleshooter for general dentists. The general dentists send patients to me with pretty advanced periodontal disease. We do the examination, diagnosis, treatment plans—basic stuff. Basic, but heroic at times,” he says with a laugh.
Periodontics is the specialty that deals with the foundation of teeth—bones, gums and the ligaments that goes around each tooth. When bacteria caused by dental plaque and tartar infect those structures, gingivitis, inflammation and periodontitis could follow. Tooth loss might be next.
Malinowski’s first recourse is removing harmful bacterial plaque nonsurgically. If that doesn’t work, surgical procedures that involve reshaping and regenerating gum and bone come into play. Don’t panic. It’s not as bad as it sounds. “Surgery is a lot more tenable than it used to be,” he says. “We used to perform gingivectomies where all the infected gums would be cut off. It was horrible. Now, there are different surgical approaches.”
Thank modern techniques such as the reverse bevel flap, a procedure that involves opening the gum to repair or remove damaged tissue, then stitching the gum back together. Gingival grafting is another industry staple. That’s when healthy tissue from the back or the roof of a patient’s mouth is grafted onto a patient’s receding or damaged gumline.
“Of course, today the amazing thing is we have materials that can grow new bone,” Malinowski says. Advanced bio-material called Emdogain essentially tricks the body into growing new bone in areas where bone has been stripped away.
Malinowski, who practiced in Greenville for 20 years, now serves a growing population in Sussex County. The resort area landed a good one in Malinowski. He’s a former assistant professor of periodontics at the University of Pennsylvania graduate department, and is currently on staff for Christiana Care Health System, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, and St. Francis Hospital. He’s a diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology and a Delaware State Dental Society Award for Excellence winner.
The University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry grad serves mostly older clientele, but younger patients oftentimes need gingival grafting or structural repairs done prior to orthodontic work. In either case, Malinowski can handle it.
“In dental school, everybody wanted to be a chief,” he says. “I wanted to be an Indian with the knowledge that I could be a chief.”
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