What is the Role of the Periodontal Specialist?

A Periodontist Specialist deals with problems in the tissues surrounding the teeth, that is, in your gums or bones. Hence, a periodontist treats periodontal diseases, also known as gum diseases. But there are more responsibilities on a periodontist’s shoulders. Let’s find out!

Before getting into the details, know this: “All periodontists are dentists, but all dentists are not periodontists!” Periodontics is basically a specialized branch of dentistry. If we break the word “periodontics,” it is from two Greek words, “peri,” meaning “around,” and “odont”, meaning “tooth.”

Who is a Periodontist?

A periodontist is a specialized dentist responsible for treating issues related to your oral foundations, especially your gums and jaws. A periodontist also treats periodontal diseases, such as periodontitis, gingivitis, and gingival (gum) recession, and looks after correct implant placement.

In short, a periodontist focuses on saving your teeth whenever possible, for example, by replacing your lost or extracted tooth with dental implants. Periodontist specialists also help regenerate lost bone material and gum around your tooth, thus playing the role of Oral Plastic Surgery specialists.

Periodontist vs. Dentist

While dentistry is a general term covering all kinds of dental treatment and care, periodontology is a specialization that focuses on diagnosing and treating different periodontal diseases and correcting tooth structures. Therefore, while general dentists have the capacity to diagnose and treat a more comprehensive range of dental and oral conditions, periodontists specialize in diagnosing, treating, and even preventing gum diseases, and placing dental implants.

However, periodontists also address routine dental issues, just as general dentists may sometimes provide gum disease solutions and dental implantation surgeries. But coming back to the specializations, periodontal specialists may offer a personalized treatment plan including one or a combination of the following –

  • Gum recession therapy
  • Bone and tissue regeneration, like bone grafting
  • Scaling and root planning
  • Flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery
  • Osseous surgery
  • Laser therapy and more

In addition, a trained periodontist in Illinois also performs dental implantation surgeries, which include strengthening the patient’s bone and gum tissues to prepare for implants and to treat a faulty implant.

Red Flags Indicating You Need to See a Periodontist!

Did your general dentist diagnose a gum disease or bone degeneration? It’s time to see a periodontist. Here are some signs you need to book your appointment with a periodontist immediately.

  • You have a persistent toothache, bad breath, or bite issue
  • You have red and swollen, or even bleeding gums (indicates gum disease)
  • You lost one or more teeth
  • You have receding gum, which happens when there is a detachment of your gum tissue from your teeth, exposing the underlying roots
  • Your tooth feels loose
  • You wish to undergo a thorough oral health checkup

What to expect in a Periodontist Appointment?

After booking your appointment with a periodontist Specialist, the first consultation would include the following –

  • Digital x-rays using high-tech equipment
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Diagnosing gum diseases and analyzing bone tissue health, and an overall dental health examination
  • Explaining the findings and test results
  • Discussion and planning of a personalized treatment procedure with further recommendations
  • Scheduling the following sessions as per the treatment plan

When visiting a Periodontist, is it ideal?

Your general dentist may refer you to a periodontist if you need specialized care like dental implants or gum disease treatment. For example, you may need to visit a periodontitis specialist if you have periodontitis, an acute gum infection that may cause tooth loss or other severe health issues. A periodontist’s specialized knowledge and expertise in treating these severe gum diseases or performing dental implantation surgeries would be more effective for supporting your dental health.

So, here are some cases when a doctor will refer you to a periodontist.

1.   Referred for Dental Implantation

While a general dentist may help you with dental implant procedures, a periodontist would have higher specialization and training in this particular treatment. Some of the reasons your dentist may redirect you to a periodontist for dental implantation include the following –

  • Periodontists have extensive knowledge about soft (cheeks, gums) and hard tissues (teeth, bones). Therefore, he or she would be the right person to place a dental implant to replace a damaged tooth, with greater chances of success.
  • Periodontists have an additional three years of education and training in periodontology, thus having in-depth surgical knowledge and expertise.
  • You must undergo a more complex dental implantation procedure, such as multiple implants.
  • You have limited bone structure, requiring bone grafting (or other bone regeneration process) before dental implant surgery.

2.   Referred for Periodontal Treatment

If you have a severe gum disease, which is quite common among Americans nowadays, your general dentist may recommend you visit a periodontist for specialized care. In serious cases, patients may require extensive research and thorough analysis to plan an effective treatment method for periodontal diseases.

Furthermore, some patients may have higher risks of gum diseases due to underlying health conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other diseases. So, when the treatment becomes a bit challenging, your general dentist may refer you to a specialized periodontist with a higher level of expertise and training in periodontology. You should see a periodontist when you have a family history of chronic diseases or other conditions like osteoporosis, respiratory disease, or cancer.

Next Steps

Now that you know the roles and responsibilities of a periodontist, it’s time to get a complete oral health checkup to analyze and diagnose any possible gum or bone issues. If done on time, it may save your tooth and prevent serious dental infections! A periodontal specialist can improve your smile aesthetics from diagnosis and prevention to rejuvenating and restoring your dental health.

To begin with, you can visit a general dentist in Illinois before scheduling an appointment with a periodontist. Congratulations, you are one step closer to maintaining good oral health!