What’s a Periodontist?

Answers to All of Your Questions About Periodontists

It’s important for everyone to understand the basics of dental care and how it helps keep your teeth and gums healthy. Of course, you know how to do your part—floss every day, brush for two minutes every morning and evening, and schedule routine professional cleanings and exams every six months. But sometimes, your dentist may decide more specialized care is needed. That’s when you might be referred to a periodontist.

What Is a Periodontist?

Periodontists are dentists with focused expertise on anything that affects the gums and other structures that support the teeth. They specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease (a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth). And they may provide specialized treatments for gum disease. They also specialize in treating gum recession, which can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Periodontists may also place dental implants and perform cosmetic procedures such as crown lengthening and tissue grafting.

Periodontists are experts in the field of oral health and have received additional training beyond dental school. This specialized training includes three or more years of advanced education in periodontology.

What is the Difference Between a Dentist and a Periodontist?

A periodontist’s work is closely linked to that of a dentist, but at the same time, it is fundamentally different. A general dental office focuses on preventive care, such as cleanings and check-ups, while a periodontal office specializes in treating gum diseases, such as periodontitis. Periodontists also use advanced techniques such as laser therapy or bone grafts to restore damaged tissue caused by gum disease. Additionally, they can perform cosmetic procedures such as dental implants or crown lengthening surgery to improve the appearance of your smile.

Why Would My Dentist Refer Me to a Periodontist?

Your dentist will assess your individual needs before deciding whether you should see a periodontist. You may be referred to a periodontist for a thorough evaluation and to discuss treatment options if you:

  • have signs of gum disease such as redness or swelling of your gums, bleeding while brushing or flossing, or loose teeth
  • need an implant
  • require complex treatments such as bone grafts
  • need specialized care for any other issue related to your gums or jawbone structure

How Do Periodontists and Dentists Work Together?

The two doctors work together on creating an individualized plan tailored specifically for you so that all aspects of your oral health are addressed appropriately. Their collaboration ensures that their patients receive the most comprehensive treatment and the best possible care.

Here is an example of how a family dentist and periodontist coordinate their treatment plans for a dental implant. The process might be as follows:

  • the dentist may extract the tooth
  • the periodontist places the implant
  • the dentist restores the “tooth” with a crown

With their coordination of care, patients can be sure they receive the most effective treatment possible for all aspects of their oral health. Your family dentist will work closely with your periodontist to ensure you receive comprehensive care and will continue to provide regular check-ups and preventative care.

By understanding what a periodontist does and why they may be involved in your dental care plan, you can make sure you get the best possible treatment and results for any issues related to your oral health.

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