A general or family dentist focuses on preventative and restorative treatments. For instance, if you need a routine dental cleaning, you see your dentist. A dentist also fills cavities and places restorations such as dental crowns or dental bridges.
A periodontist is a gum specialist. They focus on treating conditions that affect the tissues that support your teeth.
What’s The Difference Between A Dentist And A Periodontist?
Why would you see a periodontist?
Some people only need to see a periodontist temporarily. In other words, they may need to undergo treatment that’s outside the scope of practice for a general dentist. For example, maybe you need a gum graft, bone graft or frenectomy. A periodontist can perform your surgical treatment, then refer you back to your general dentist when your recovery is complete.
Other people may need to see a periodontist long term. This includes people who are prone to gum disease. Those who are genetically predisposed to gum disease usually need periodontal cleanings in addition to routine cleanings at their dentist’s office. In these cases, your periodontist will work closely alongside of your general dentist. You’ll continue to receive care from both of them in order to maintain optimal oral health.
What exactly does a periodontist do?
A periodontist treats oral health issues that affect your periodontium (the tissues around your teeth). This includes your:
· Gingiva: Your gums.
· Periodontal ligament: A group of connective tissue fibers that attach your teeth to your jawbone.
· Cementum: A hard layer of calcified tissue that covers your teeth roots.
· Alveolar bone: The part of your jawbone that has tooth sockets.
What type of procedures does a periodontist perform?
Periodontal maintenance refers to a type of teeth cleaning. It’s similar to a regular cleaning at your dentist’s office. But in addition to cleaning your teeth, your periodontist or hygienist checks your gum health and measures the pockets around your teeth. Many people who need periodontal maintenance should have these cleanings every three to four months. Your periodontist can recommend a cleaning schedule that’s right for you.
Scaling and root planing (periodontal cleaning)
Scaling and root planing (SCP) is the correct term for a deep dental cleaning. The main difference is that SRP requires local anesthesia to numb your gums. This allows your hygienist to clean deep underneath your gum line, where harmful bacteria hide. They’ll also smooth the surfaces of your teeth roots to discourage plaque and bacteria from building up.
Periodontists typically recommend scaling and root planing for people with early-stage (mild to moderate) gum disease.
A periodontist routinely performs gum surgeries if considered necessary. There are several different types of surgical periodontal treatments, including:
· Gingival flap surgery: Also called pocket reduction surgery, this procedure treats moderate to severe periodontitis (gum disease). During this procedure, your periodontist makes incisions and gently moves your gums away from your teeth. This allows them to see the infection that’s deep under your gum line. After thoroughly cleaning your teeth roots, your periodontist repositions your gum tissue and stitches it into place.
· Gum grafts: This procedure treats gum recession. People with gum recession don’t have enough healthy gum tissue around their teeth. During a gum graft procedure, your periodontist adds tissue to the area where your gums are thin.
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