Patients who are under treatment for periodontal or gum disease may need to see a specialist, called a periodontist, if their condition continues to worsen. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in dealing with the supporting structures of the teeth—including the gums, bones, etc. Periodontists are trained to address the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum or periodontal diseases. A periodontist also has training and skills in the placement of dental implants.
Periodontists can handle challenging periodontal cases, including patients with severe gum disease or a complex medical history.
A dental patient may be referred to a periodontist for the following reasons:
- Advanced treatment – All dentists are trained in basic treatment of gum diseases. A periodontist is often called to intervene in cases where diseases have advanced deeper than the gum line and have caused infection-filled pockets in between the gum and the teeth, or in cases where there is significant gum recession.
- Advanced cleaning – The regular cleaning that is usually done twice a year is part of the standard care regimen handled by the regular dentist. When the gum disease is severe, a patient may need more advanced and frequent dental cleaning to prevent recurring infection. This kind of dental service is provided by the periodontist, who can also help the patient develop a dental hygiene plan to address the problems.
- General health – Some chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, or pregnancy, may affect the health of the gums. The periodontist can develop a treatment protocol that will coordinate with the patient’s other health conditions.
- Preparation for future restoration – Teeth have a life span. The goal of dental care is to prolong the life of your natural teeth. If losing your teeth is inevitable, a periodontist can help set restoration procedures in motion. If gum tissues are compromised, the periodontist can also help restore those tissues.
Patients with severe cases of periodontal diseases can get the best treatment from the combined efforts of their general dentist and a periodontist.