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A periodontist is a dentist—one who specialises particularly in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of periodontitis, also known as periodontal disease or advanced gum disease. Periodontal disease is a severe infection of the gum tissue, bone, and ligaments surrounding the teeth. When a person has periodontitis, the bacterial infection is so severe that the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. Leftover food and debris get inside these pockets, attracting more bacteria and making the teeth more vulnerable to infection. The body’s immune system tries to fight the bacteria as the infection spreads below the gum line. Both the toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque and the enzymes involved in fighting infections start to wear down the bone and connective tissue holding the teeth in place. As the gum disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. When this happens, teeth become loose, causing tooth loss.
Periodontists usually deal with more complicated and problematic cases, especially those with severe gum disease or patients with a complex medical history. The can treat patients with gum disease using different surgical procedures, focusing on the best one that fits the patient’s condition and needs. At the same time, they also offer a wide range of treatments such as planning, placement, repair, and maintenance of dental implants, scaling and root cleaning, and root surface debridement, which involves removing damaged tissue.
Periodontists also specialise in the treatment of oral inflammation. It is a given for periodontists to have received extensive training in all these areas mentioned, plus three years of additional education beyond dental school. They should also be updated with the latest techniques and equipment for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease as well as in cosmetic periodontal procedures.
During your visit to a periodontist, your periodontist will review your complete and updated dental and medical histories. It is extremely important for the periodontist to know your medical history including the types of medications you’re currently taking especially if you have conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or are currently pregnant. Medications you are currently taking may interfere with your periodontal treatment. Also, having a condition such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic high blood pressure, or being pregnant poses some risks when getting any major or complicated dental treatment.
Your periodontist will also examine the following:
- The gums to see if there is any gum line recession
- The teeth to see if they are stable or loose
- The spaces in between the teeth and gums to determine their depth and if
- Periodontal pockets have formed
- How the teeth fits together when biting
If needed, a series of x-rays will be performed for the periodontist to better assess the health of the bone below the gum line.
Some general dentists can see to their patients’ periodontal needs. However, if a patient is experiencing a more advanced stage of periodontal disease, or has a complicated medical condition and history, it would be better to consult a periodontist immediately.go back