What Does a Periodontist Do? Understanding the Role of These Dental Specialist
When it comes to oral health, many people are familiar with dentists and orthodontists, but there’s another crucial player in the field of dental care – the periodontist. Periodontists are specialized dental professionals who focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that affect the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.
In this blog post, we’ll learn what a periodontist is, what they do, and why their role is essential for maintaining optimal oral health.
What Is a Periodontist?
Periodontists are gum dentists or specialists who practice periodontics, a branch of dentistry that deals with the structures surrounding and supporting the teeth. Periodontics deals specifically with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease. The word “periodontal” refers to the tissues around the teeth, including the gums, bone, and supporting ligaments.
The primary difference between a dentist and a periodontist lies in their areas of expertise. Dentists are general practitioners who provide comprehensive oral care, including preventive measures, restorative procedures, and routine check-ups. On the other hand, periodontists are specialists with additional training in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.
While dentists address a broad spectrum of dental needs, periodontists focus specifically on issues such as gum disease, gum grafting, and dental implants.
What Does a Periodontist Do?
Diagnosis of Gum Diseases
One of the primary responsibilities of a periodontist is to diagnose and treat gum diseases. This includes common conditions like gingivitis, characterized by inflamed and bleeding gums, gingival overgrowth or excess gum tissue, as well as more severe cases like periodontitis, which can lead to the deterioration of the bone supporting the teeth. Periodontists use their expertise to identify the specific type and severity of gum disease and develop tailored periodontal treatment plans.
Scaling and Root Planing
Periodontists often perform deep cleaning procedures known as scaling and root planing. These treatments involve removing plaque and tartar from the surfaces of the teeth and below the gumline, smoothing out the root surfaces to prevent the accumulation of harmful bacteria. These procedures are crucial for managing and controlling gum diseases.
Gum Grafting and Regeneration
When gum tissue has receded due to disease or other factors, periodontists perform gum graft surgical procedures. These involve transplanting soft tissue from one area of the mouth to another to restore and enhance the gums’ structure. Additionally, periodontists may employ techniques to stimulate the regeneration of bone and tissues that support the teeth. This periodontal surgery helps address issues such as exposed tooth roots, sensitivity, and esthetic concerns related to gum recession.
Dental Implant Placement
Do periodontists do implants? The answer is, “Yes!”. Dental implants are a popular and durable solution for replacing missing teeth, and periodontists play a crucial role in ensuring the implants are securely anchored in the jawbone. Their expertise in the health of the supporting structures makes them well-suited for this task.
Treatment of Periodontal Abscesses
Periodontists are skilled in managing periodontal abscesses, which are pockets of pus that can form within the gums. Prompt and proper treatment is essential to prevent the spread of infection, bone loss, and damage to surrounding tissues.
Collaboration with Other Dental Professionals
Periodontists often collaborate with general dentists and other dental specialists to provide comprehensive care. This collaborative approach ensures that patients receive well-rounded treatment plans that address all aspects of their oral health.
When to See a Periodontist for Gum Health
- Persistent Gum Bleeding. Occasional gum bleeding during brushing or flossing might be normal, but persistent or excessive bleeding could be a sign of gum disease. If your gums bleed regularly, it’s crucial to consult a periodontist to assess the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment options.
- Swollen or Tender Gums. Swelling and tenderness of the gums are common indicators of inflammation, a hallmark of gum disease. If your gums appear red, swollen, or feel tender to the touch, seeking the expertise of a periodontist is advisable for a comprehensive evaluation.
- Receding Gums. Receding gums expose the roots of the teeth and can be a sign of gum disease or other underlying issues. If you notice that your teeth appear longer than before or if you observe gum recession, it’s essential to consult a periodontist who can assess the extent of the recession and recommend appropriate interventions.
- Persistent Bad Breath. While bad breath can have various causes, persistent halitosis can be linked to gum disease. The bacteria associated with gum infections can produce unpleasant odors. If you’re concerned about persistent bad breath, a periodontist can identify the root cause and propose suitable treatments.
- Loose or Shifting Teeth. Changes in the positioning of your teeth, along with feelings of looseness or shifting, could be indicative of advanced gum disease affecting the bone supporting your teeth. Prompt evaluation by a periodontist is essential to prevent further tooth mobility and potential tooth loss.
- Pockets Forming Between Teeth and Gums. Healthy gums snugly fit around the teeth, but as gum disease progresses, periodontal pockets can form between the teeth and gums. These pockets provide a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to further complications. A periodontist can measure these pockets and recommend appropriate interventions to manage the condition.
- Previous History of Gum Disease. If you’ve had gum disease in the past, it increases the likelihood of recurrence. Regular check-ups with a periodontist are crucial to monitor and manage any potential resurgence of gum issues.
- Family History of Gum Disease. Genetics can play a role in your susceptibility to gum disease. If there’s a family history of periodontal problems, it’s wise to be proactive and consult a periodontist for regular assessments and preventive care.
- Difficulty Chewing or Discomfort While Eating. Gum disease can lead to discomfort while chewing, especially if it has progressed to affect the supporting structures of the teeth. If you experience pain or discomfort while eating, it’s a signal to seek the expertise of a periodontist.
- Systemic Health Conditions Linked to Gum Disease. Certain systemic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, are associated with an increased risk of gum problems. If you have such dental health conditions, regular visits to a periodontist can be essential in managing and preventing oral health complications.
While general dentists are adept at managing various dental concerns, there are specific signs that indicate the need to consult a periodontist. Paying attention to these signs and promptly seeking the expertise of a periodontist can be instrumental in preserving your oral health.
Do Periodontists Do Implants?
Yes, periodontists perform dental implant procedures. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating periodontal disease and placing dental implants. They receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school.
However, it’s important to note that other specialists, such as oral surgeons, are ideal for dental implant surgery. They are qualified to handle more complex cases requiring bone grafting or sinus lifts. Also, they received additional training in anesthesia and can offer intravenous (IV) sedation or general anesthesia for patients who experience anxiety during the procedure.
The choice between a periodontist and an oral surgeon often depends on the specific needs and circumstances of the patient.
Contact the Periodontists of Throgs Neck Dental for Your Gum Health
The health of the gums is foundational to overall oral health. Periodontal diseases, if left unchecked, can lead to serious complications, including tooth loss and systemic health issues.
The periodontists of Throgs Neck Dental have specialized knowledge and skills to guard you against gum diseases. Regular dental check-ups, coupled with the expertise of our periodontists, can ensure that your smile remains not only beautiful but also healthy for years to come. Contact us now to schedule your appointment!