What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that destroy the gum and other structures that support the teeth. Additionally, they are experts in the placement of dental implants and treatment of oral inflammation. Periodontists must complete three additional years of training (known as "residency") after graduating from dental school. Their advanced education, combined with continuing education after residency, ensures that they are constantly at forefront of diagnosing and treating periodontal disease.
Periodontists often treat patients with more problematic dental issues, such as those with severe gum disease or complex medical issues that affect how dental care is provided. There are many treatments provided by periodontists, such as scaling and root planing (cleaning of an infected surface), or root surface debridement (the removal of damaged tissue). Periodontists are the experts in their field at using a range of surgical approaches to treating severe gum problems. They are also specifically trained to place, maintain and repair dental implants.
During the first appointment, the periodontist thoroughly reviews not only the patient's dental history, but also their medical history. It is extremely important that any dental or medical provider is aware of any medications being taken by a patient, as well as conditions or diseases such as heart disease, diabetes or pregnancy.
The periodontist will examine the gums in order to assess if the gum line is receding, assess how the teeth fit together when biting, and for any loose teeth. The periodontist will also measure the depth between the teeth and gums, known as periodontal pockets; this helps assessing the health of the gums. X-rays or other imaging may be taken to visualize the health of the bone below the gum line.