As is the case with doctors, dentists may choose either to establish a generalized practice or specialize in an area. A specialist attends regular dental school and then pursues several more years of education in their chosen specialty field. A periodontist is one such dental specialist.
The Branch of Periodontics
A periodontist has about three years of advanced training in working with soft oral tissues and the jaws. Periodontics focuses primarily on the management of oral inflammation (such as gingivitis) and full-blown gum disease (periodontitis). Moreover, if a patient has an underlying health condition—such as heart disease or diabetes—that makes dental care more complicated, a periodontist can help. He or she looks at the patient’s overall medical history as opposed to just the dental history.
What a Periodontist Can Do
A periodontist can perform a number of procedures—such as pocket cleaning, scaling, root planning, recontouring, crown lengthening, and bone grafting—that may halt or reverse periodontitis and restore a healthier-looking smile. Although general dentists can manage a variety of issues from filling cavities to gingivitis to mild gum disease, patients with moderate-to-severe dental problems or complex health issues are better off seeing a periodontist for more in-depth care.
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