How Is A Periodontist Different From A General Dentist?

Posted on Nov 12, 2012 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Instead of having one dental professional for optimal oral health, general dentists regularly team with periodontists. General dentists often refer patients to periodontists to treat more problematic periodontal cases, such as severe gum disease or intricate periodontal procedures, such as tissue grafts. Together, they are able to help patients achieve good oral health and maintain this on an ongoing basis. This team approach with your general dentist helps to create a treatment plan that best conforms to your individual needs and goals.

All periodontists must complete an additional two to three years of specialized training in periodontics following four years of undergraduate school and four years of dental school. Periodontists offer a wide range of treatments, such as scaling and root planing (which is the repair of an infected tooth root) or root surface debridement (removal of damaged tissue). While familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, they are also trained in performing cosmetic procedures involving gum tissue.

Periodontists typically spend the majority of their time diagnosing and treating periodontal (gum) disease. However, they perform a wide range of procedures that involve soft tissues of the mouth. For example, they are skilled in cosmetic procedures to help create a beautiful smile, such as crown lengthening and repair of a ‘gummy smile.’ Since periodontists are dental pros when it comes to working with gum tissues, they can place dental implants skillfully without compromising gum tissues surrounding surgical site(s). They also correct gum recession by covering exposed root surfaces to prevent sensitivity to hot and cold as well as for esthetic reasons.

Periodontists are also experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. Because periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are chronic inflammatory diseases, researchers believe that gum disease can increase inflammation in the body. This can lead to an increased risk for developing more severe health complications, including cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes and other problems. Periodontal disease has been linked to preterm babies, memory loss and stroke as well.

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