It would be easy to think that any doctor working on teeth is, essentially, a dentist, but that is not necessarily the case. Dentists go to great lengths to keep patients’ teeth clean and free of plaque, while also performing routine fillings and cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening.
These are not the only doctors responsible for dental health, however, as periodontists also play a massive role in diagnosing and treating periodontitis, or gum disease.
What Does a Periodontist Do?
It should come as no surprise that a periodontist focuses his or her work on the periodontium, the region of a person’s mouth that features the gums and bones, which extends beyond just teeth into the bone fibers that actually help hold those teeth in place. More than anything else, periodontists are tasked with diagnosing and treating the more advanced gum diseases that work beyond the abilities of a standard dentist. If a patient believes they may have gingivitis or periodontitis, a periodontist would be the one to diagnose that officially.
Dentist or Periodontist?
Since both types of doctors deal with the teeth and gums, it may be a little confusing to determine which to go see for matters of the mouth, but each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Reasons to Visit a Dentist
Considering most people have been to the dentist a number of times over the course of their lives, the list of reasons to attend one probably will not come as much of a surprise. Obviously dental hygienists are responsible for cleanings and basic checkups that include procedures like x-rays, polishing, and fluoride application. Dentists also are skilled at doing all manners of tooth repairs, which can include everything from filling cavities to performing root canals. They also can apply crowns or bridges, perform standard tooth extractions, and even some non-surgical periodontal care.
Dentists also are a great first step for pediatric dentistry, as kids are more likely to see dentists much more often than they are periodontists. Lastly, some dentists specialize in certain cosmetic procedures, including veneers and tooth whitening, among other things.
Reasons to Visit a Periodontist
If a patient has tender, swollen or bleeding gums, there is a good chance that they have some sort of gum disease and should be referred to a periodontist for more specialized treatment. A periodontist will focus on deep pocket cleanings to help ebb some of that periodontal disease, but they also can perform bone grafting, soft tissue removal, root planning, and hard tissue recontouring. In other words, any significant problem with the soft tissue and bone in the mouth is likely to be addressed by a periodontist, as their education and experience gears much more toward those areas than a standard dentist.
While dentists are great for the more common issues when it comes to teeth, sometimes a periodontist is necessary for more specific issues. Here at Specialty Dental Care we have a standout periodontics department capable of handling the aforementioned dental needs, especially when it comes to those more advanced gum diseases that require specialists.