Periodontist vs. Dentist: What Is the Difference?

 Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping your teeth healthy is essential for your long-term health. This requires regular visits to your local dentist or, in some cases, scheduling an appointment with a periodontist. Most people have a hard time distinguishing between the two and that causes a lot of confusion and misinformation.

In this article, we will try to explain what a periodontist does, when you should visit one, as well as some of the main differences between periodontists and regular dentists.

What is a Periodontist?

In essence, periodontists are dentists with an added specialization in periodontology, which studies and treats the supporting structures of the teeth, such as the gums, bones, and ligaments surrounding the teeth. To receive a degree in periodontology a dentist has to complete an additional three years of specialty studies.

A periodontist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal diseases (diseases affecting gums), as well as placement, maintenance, and replacement of dental implants. Most periodontal diseases target gums or jawbones. It is the job of a periodontist to provide sound advice in preventing those diseases, as well as diagnosing and treating them before they can cause further complications.

In general, think of a periodontist as an oral health specialist focusing on the health of your gums and the bones surrounding your teeth, as well as a trained professional for performing a variety of cosmetic dental procedures, such as placing and replacing implants.

When to Visit a Periodontist vs. Dentist?

Sometimes, it’s not clear whether you need the help of a dentist or a periodontist. In this short guide, we listed several issues that each oral health professional covers to help you feel comfortable scheduling a visit with them.

Dentist

  • Make sure to do your regular oral health checkups with your general dentists. They have a better understanding of your dental health history and focus on a wider array of treatments compared to the periodontists.
  • Keeping your teeth clean and a bi-monthly appointment for cleaning will do wonders for your teeth. Leave that to your local dentist.
  • If you need to x-ray a tooth or your jawline, you can still take x-ray scans at your general dentist.
  • Small dental procedures such as filling cavities are best-taken care of by a general dentist.
  • If you need a root canal or one of your teeth needs extraction, the dentist is a safe and more prudent choice.
  • Small cosmetic procedures such as veneers, bonding, whitening, along with making crowns and bridges are also areas where a general dentist will do a better job, due to their often-increased experience and practice.
  • If you need periodontal care that does not involve surgery, a general dentist should be able to help there as well.

Periodontist

  • Detailed procedures such as deep pocket cleaning, bone grafting, and root planing should be done by an experienced periodontist.
  • If any soft tissue needs removal or a thorough hard tissue reconstruction is the only way to go, periodontists shine in these treatments.
  • Complicated cosmetic alterations such as implant replacement and lengthening the crowns are tasks for a periodontist.

When Is It Time to Visit a Periodontist?

  • Before you go ahead and schedule an appointment with a periodontist, there are five key symptoms that might require the help of a periodontist to keep an eye out for.
  • Your bite does not feel quite the same. Changes in the way your bite feels can be a symptom of something much sinister, such as periodontal disease.
  • Your gums are red and swollen and bleed occasionally. These are the usual symptoms of gum disease, therefore a visit to a periodontist can help set you up with adequate treatment and help you avoid future pain and complications.
  • Loose teeth are often a symptom of thinning bones and periodontitis. Periodontitis is a very serious periodontal disease and you should visit a periodontist as soon as possible.
  • Your gums are receding at an alarming rate. Receding gums are a normal symptom of aging, but the excessive recession of gums might point to periodontal disease.
  • If you are feeling pain and discomfort and you cannot locate it to a specific tooth, it might be best to visit a periodontist. A thorough examination by a periodontist should quickly uncover the cause of discomfort.

Periodontists vs. Dentists: the Final Word

Hopefully, we managed to provide you with plenty of information that will help you realize the differences and importance of both general dentists and periodontists. Having both as part of your oral health team is essential to your long-term wellness.

Do your gums bleed frequently and cause you pain and discomfort? Perhaps you would like to stay on top of your oral health and avoid periodontal disease.  For more information, feel free to contact us today at (806) 794-8365 and schedule your appointment.