The Difference Between a Dentist and Periodontist
While both dentists and periodontists work in the mouth, their jobs are actually quite different. If you haven’t seen a dental specialist in the past; chances are you might not know when you need to. Below you’ll learn the differences between a general dentist and a periodontist; and when you should seek periodontal care.
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the soft tissues of the mouth and the underlying jawbone which supports the teeth. Periodontists receive an additional three years of education beyond dental school. They have also been trained in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease as well as dental implant placement and cosmetic periodontal procedures.
One main difference between dentists and periodontists has to do with the gums. Because periodontists generally deal with the area around the tooth, rather than the tooth itself, problems concerning that part of the mouth are often best treated by a periodontist.
General dentists are typically seen for:
- Crowns or bridges
- Standard tooth extractions
- Standard x-rays
- Tooth decay
- Tooth whitening
Periodontists are typically seen for:
- Bone grafts
- Crown lengthening
- Dark or discolored gums
- Dental implants
- Gum disease treatment
- Gum grafts
- Laser gum treatment
- Lip repositioning
- Pinhole gum rejuvenation
- Receding gums
- Sinus lift
Patients often present in a periodontal office with the following symptoms:
- Gums that bleed easily, especially while brushing or flossing
- Gum recession or becoming ‘long in the tooth’
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Red, swollen, tender gums
Because one of the main differences between a dentist and a periodontist is the soft tissue specialty, your general dentist may choose not to treat gum problems, especially if the problem is advanced. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to bone and tooth loss. It has also been associated with heart disease, diabetes, underweight babies, cancer, and more.
Dr. Joseph Nemeth offers patients a laser gum disease treatment called LANAP which is minimally invasive and offers little to no post-operative discomfort. Many patients are back to their normal routines the same day. This procedure is known for saving patients’ teeth without the need for stitches.
No matter which type of dental professional you need to see; it is always important to remember that practicing good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you do to keep your mouth and body healthy!