Most everyone is familiar with basic dentistry. A dentist is your first stop for oral cleanings and regular check-ups. If you need a common treatment, such as a filling, crown, or root canal, a dentist has you covered. Your dentist plays a major role in helping you maintain solid oral health, and they often serve as the first line of defense when it comes to treating oral health issues.
However, if you need specialized treatment or you’re suffering from moderate to severe gum disease or tooth loss, your dentist will likely refer you to a periodontist. A periodontist is a type of dentist that specializes in the treatment and prevention of severe oral health issues. They offer a wide range of treatment options to combat gum disease and its nasty side effects and can help patients begin to feel like normal again. They can also teach you everything you need to know about the importance of long-term oral health and preventative steps you can take to prevent gum disease in the future.
How Is A Periodontist Different From A Dentist?
A dentist is an oral health provider who provides regular cleanings and diagnoses. They also perform common dental procedures. Patients should visit a dentist every six months to receive routine care and monitor for significant conditions. Dentists treat minor to moderate gum disease and can perform tooth extractions; however, when cases are severe, they’ll often refer you to a periodontist.
Patients only need to visit a periodontist when seeking treatment for a severe oral health condition. Periodontics is a specialized form of dentistry focused on treating severe or chronic cases of gum disease, tooth loss, and jaw deterioration. Both dentists and periodontists are required to graduate from dental school; however, periodontists receive special training and extra education that better prepares them to treat significant issues.
What Dental Services Does A Periodontist Offer?
Most services offered by a periodontist are geared toward the treatment of gum disease, tooth loss, or bone loss. Some common procedures include:
- Dental Implants – Often considered the best solution for one or more missing teeth, dental implants look, feel, and behave like real teeth. By connecting directly to the jaw, dental implants mimic the actual structure of a real tooth. They’re comfortable, durable, and last decades.
- Periodontal Treatment – For patients suffering from severe gum disease, periodontists offer numerous treatment options. From non-surgical treatments like deep cleaning and antibiotics to surgical treatments like flap surgery and soft tissue grafting, periodontists create unique plans to help patients overcome even the most severe cases of periodontitis.
- Laser Periodontal Treatment – A less invasive, less painful alternative to traditional gum disease treatment is laser periodontal treatment (LANAP). This procedure leverages a high-powered laser to help target and eliminate areas of diseased tissue throughout the mouth. This service is great for patients who fear traditional gum disease treatments. Note that not all periodontists offer LANAP, as it requires specialized training.
- Extractions – While extractions are always a last resort, they are sometimes necessary when patients have severe cases of gum disease. Periodontists will do everything possible to save a tooth, but in the event removal is necessary, they are highly skilled at both simple and surgical extractions. Patients can expect little to no discomfort and no damage to surrounding teeth. A periodontist will also help inform patients of the various options for tooth replacement.
- Bone Grafts
If you’re missing one or more teeth, then you may also be at risk for bone loss in the jaw area. If an area of the jaw does not receive regular stimulation from the regular use of a connected tooth, it often begins to deteriorate. If this is the case, a periodontist can perform a bone graft. This procedure involves removing bone tissue from another area of the jaw and using it to strengthen the weakened section. Bone grafts are often needed in order to ensure the jaw is strong enough to support dental implants.
- Sedation Dentistry – Some are nervous about seeking dental care, so many periodontists offer sedation dentistry to help keep patients comfortable. Sedation dentistry involves placing patients in a dream-like, conscious state through the duration of the procedure to help calm nerves and minimize pain. Sedation dentistry is administered through oral medication, a nitrous oxide (laughing gas) mask, or through an IV. It’s completely safe.
Periodontists Also Help Educate Patients About The Importance Of Oral Health
Most patients don’t realize the effects of gum disease are far-reaching. When left untreated, chronic inflammation of the gums can result in heart problems, cognitive issues, and more. Treating oral health conditions is just one part of a periodontist’s job, but the other part is education. A good periodontist doesn’t just treat, they teach. We help patients learn about preventive steps they can take to avoid oral health problems in the future. We also teach them about the connection between oral health and overall health, which is becoming increasingly apparent. We provide patients with all the information they need to create good oral health habits, so they can live a long and healthy life.
How Do I Know If I Need To See A Periodontist?
In many cases, if you have moderate to severe gum disease or are on the verge of tooth loss, your dentist will refer you to a periodontist. However, you can also schedule an appointment with a periodontist on your own. If you’re experiencing signs and symptoms of gum disease, such as swollen or puffy gums, painful chewing, or bleeding gums, visiting a dentist or a periodontist is the right next step. If you’ve already suffered from tooth loss and are interested in exploring dental implants, you can also schedule a consultation.
Periodontics and regular dentistry have a lot in common; however, periodontics is a specialized form of dentistry. You generally only need to see a periodontist for the treatment of severe gum disease or tooth loss. If you’re experiencing either, contact us at Ormond Beach Periodontics today. Our team would be happy to create a custom treatment plan just for you.