A healthy smile is always characterized by two things, pearly white teeth, and healthy pink gums. Most dentists focus on providing you the best natural smile by following up with your routine teeth cleaning appointments. They even perform cosmetic treatments such as teeth whitening and tooth replacement to ensure you have pearly white teeth.
However, not all general dentists are good at keeping your gums healthy. In such cases, they refer the patients to a periodontist. Periodontists are dental specialists who focus on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases related to the gums and surrounding periodontal tissue.
Periodontists perform a broad range of minor and significant gum correction treatments that enhance the gingival tissue’s health. Moreover, it helps to restore the natural smile of the patient.
Today’s article will highlight the importance of a periodontist. Furthermore, we will discuss the procedures performed by a periodontist.
Who is a periodontist?
A periodontist is a dental specialist who undergoes additional training and education in maintaining the health of the gums and surrounding periodontal tissue. Usually, this additional training lasts for two to three years after graduating from dental school. (1)
Periodontists primarily focus on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases associated with the gums and periodontium (periodontal ligaments, alveolar bone, and cementum). Moreover, they are also trained in the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants.
Additionally, periodontists work in coordination with general dentists to tailor a comprehensive treatment plan for patients with gum disease. Moreover, they work on preventing the recurrence of such conditions. (2)
When should you visit a periodontist?
There are typical, five signs that you must look for that may require a consultation from a periodontist –
- Alteration of your bite – you might feel that while chewing, brushing, or even talking, there is a change in your bite. A periodontist might examine the cause behind this change and offer alternative treatment options.
- Notice redness, swelling or bleeding from gums
- Loosening of teeth
- Notice gum recession in one or more teeth
- Pain and discomfort associated with the gums and surrounding tissue
What should you expect during a periodontal appointment?
Usually, during your first visit to a periodontist, the specialist will thoroughly review your medical and dental history. A periodontist needs to know what medications you are taking that may affect the gums and periodontium.
The periodontist will move ahead to examine the health of your gums clinically. He makes assessments for the following –
- Gum recession
- The fit of the teeth together on biting
- Tooth mobility
- Bone loss
The periodontist may also evaluate the health of your periodontal tissues by measuring it with a probe to check for periodontal pockets. Sometimes, x-rays may be required to assess the bone loos and strategize for replacement therapy. (3)
What procedures are performed by a periodontist?
Some of the standard procedures performed by a periodontist include –
Professional teeth cleaning or debridement
Most people do not floss between the teeth and, therefore, suffer from plaque and calculus formation between the teeth. Such cases, when left untreated, can escalate to cause gum disease and gradual bone loss.
A periodontist may help to clean the debris and calculus using an ultrasonic scaler efficiently. He also cleans the deeper tissues around the gum line. In areas with periodontal pockets, the periodontist performs root planing to smoothen the surface of the tooth root. (4)
Gum corrective surgeries
The periodontist is specially trained to perform gum corrective surgeries such as grafting and gum contouring. Gum contouring is committed to providing proper shape to the gums around the teeth. In some cases, the inflamed gum tissue (gingival hyperplasia) is also removed in this procedure.
Additionally, gum grafts may be placed to correct recessions and provide a healthy-looking smile. Crown lengthening is another unique surgery performed to expose the tooth root for a short clinical tooth for cosmetic treatments.
Periodontists are specialized in evaluating the suitability of a patient for accepting implants. Moreover, they are well trained to place, maintain, and restore dental implants. This procedure requires the integration of a titanium screw into the bone. The patient is then put on a three months follow-up to allow proper healing of the implant.
Once the implant is healed, tooth replacements are performed using a dental crown, bridge, or overdenture.
How are periodontists different from general dentists?
Unlike general dentists, periodontists are more focused on treating soft tissue and bone diseases. Usually, the general dentist might not be able to assess the degree of gum disease, especially in complex cases where the patient has diabetes or heart condition. (5)
Periodontists are trained to have the skills and knowledge of treating and maintaining any complex gum diseases. Moreover, they also perform surgical procedures to enhance the aesthetics of the gums. Periodontists are also the best dental professionals to educate people on proper oral hygiene practice and gum health maintenance.
FAQs for periodontist
What is a periodontist?
A periodontist is typically a dental specialist who deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases related to the gums and surrounding periodontium. Additionally, a periodontist is also trained in placing implants.
Periodontists undergo additional training for three years after graduating from dental school. During this time, they are exposed to the latest technologies used to diagnose and treat periodontal diseases, gum diseases, and complicated medical history. Some of these treatments usually include scaling and root planing.
Moreover, they also perform surgical procedures like flap replacement and cosmetic dental procedures like placement, maintenance, and repair of implants.
What does a periodontist do?
Usually, in the first visit, the periodontist will thoroughly review the patient’s medical and dental histories. This investigation is crucial for a periodontist to check if any medications are being taken or if the patient is under treatment for any condition that can affect the periodontal tissues, such as heart disease, diabetes, or even pregnancy.
After taking a complete history, the periodontist examines the gums to see if there is any gum recession. Moreover, he assesses how the teeth fit together when biting to see if any tooth is loose. Additionally, the periodontist also uses a specialized measuring instrument called a probe.
The probe is placed between the teeth and gums to determine the depth of those spaces, known as periodontal pockets. This procedure helps the periodontist to assess the health of the gums. In some cases, dental x-rays may also be taken to observe the bone health below the gum line.
What is the annual salary of a periodontist?
On average, the annual salary ranges between $165000 to $260000. However, some factors determine the salary of a periodontist. Some of these factors include –
- Number of patients treated each day
- Years of experience as a periodontal specialist
- Location of the dental office
What is the meaning of the term periodontology?
Periodontology, also known as periodontics, is a branch of dentistry that deals with in-depth study of gums and periodontal tissues. Moreover, it deals with the diagnosis, management, and treatment of periodontal and gum diseases.
Ideally, a periodontium consists of supporting tissues such as the gums, periodontal ligament, cementum of the tooth root and alveolar bone.
Periodontists perform procedures that involve maintaining the health and hygiene of the periodontium. Moreover, they are also trained to perform cosmetic dental functions, especially implant placement and repair.
How much does a periodontist make per hour?
Typically, the average hourly salary of a periodontist ranges between $80 – $120. However, it depends on the experience, the location of the dental office, and the number of patients treated each day.
Take away message
Periodontists are dental specialists who undergo additional education and training for two to three years after graduation from dental school. They primarily focus on diagnosing, preventing, and treating diseases associated with the gums and periodontium.
Usually, periodontists examine the health of the gums by using a periodontal probe. Moreover, they assess the fit of the teeth, presence of periodontal pocket, and bone loss.
Typically, the procedures performed by a periodontist include treating mild and advanced gum disease, gum graft surgery, dental implant placement and maintenance, crown lengthening, and corrective gum surgeries. Additionally, periodontists educate people on proper oral hygiene practices to maintain the health of the gums and teeth for a long time.