What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a highly trained dentist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease. Periodontists are also experts in dental implant placements and oral inflammation treatments. Periodontists have received a very high level of training in these specific areas. After graduating from dental school, depending on the area of specialization, 3 - 7 years of additional education are required to become a periodontist. Many periodontists also go on to become board-certified.
Periodontists are required to be familiar with recent technologies and techniques for diagnostic and treatment expertise. Periodontists have received extensive training in treating oral inflammation, in dental implant placement, and in performing successful cosmetic dental treatments and procedures.
Patients with more advanced and/or severe periodontal disease will need to seek care from a periodontist. Periodontists can also help treat dental patients with more complex medical histories.
There are many kinds of treatments offered by periodontists, including treatments such as root surface debridement (removal of damaged tissues) and scaling and root planing (cleaning of infected root surfaces). Periodontists are also able to treat severe gum issues with various kinds of surgical procedures. Additionally, periodontists are experts in all aspects of dental implant treatment.
On your initial visit with a periodontist a patient’s complete dental and medical history will be reviewed. Periodontists need to know if a patient takes any medications regularly, and about any other conditions that might be affecting a patient’s periodontal health, such as pregnancy, diabetes, or heart disease.
In a periodontal exam the gums, cheeks, gum line and teeth are all carefully examined to look for any recession of the gum lines, and to check for any bite issues or loose teeth. Using a probe (which is just a small measuring instrument) the periodontist can measure the spaces between gums and teeth to check the depths of the periodontal pockets which can help in assessing the overall gum health of the patient. X-rays are often taken in an initial exam, as well, to check the bone health below the patient’s gum line.
While many basic dental needs can usually be handled by a general dentist, many people have signs of periodontal disease and need specialized care to keep the disease from progressing. More people are showing signs of gum disease, which research suggests could be related to relationships between gum disease and various chronic diseases associated with aging.
Periodontal treatments require expert understanding and specialized understanding. Patients who are presenting serious or extreme periodontal disease will require sensitive and specialized diagnosis and treatment. In many complex cases it can be best to have a team - a general dentist AND a periodontist to help manage the issues and bests treatments.
Periodontists are also well versed in the realms of cosmetic dentistry which can be a very important aspect of treatment for patients with periodontal disease. Periodontists can also really assist patients who may be suffering confidence issues directly related to ongoing periodontal conditions or periodontal disease.