A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the soft tissues of the mouth and the jaw bone which supports the teeth. It takes three more years of study and training after completing dental school to become a specialized periodontist.
The periodontist is mainly concerned with preventing the onset of gum disease (periodontal disease), diagnosing conditions affecting the gums and jawbone, and treating gingivitis, periodontitis and bone loss. The periodontist is able to treat mild, moderate and advanced gum disease by first addressing the bacterial infection at the root of the problem, providing periodontal treatment, then providing information and education on good oral hygiene and the effective cleaning of the teeth.
The most common conditions treated are:
Gingivitis – This is the mild inflammation of the gums
Mild/moderate periodontitis – When the pockets are measured to be between 4-6mm
Advanced periodontitis – When the pockets exceed 6mm in depth, significant bone loss may occur
Missing teeth – When teeth are missing as a result of bone loss, the periodontist can implant prosthetic teeth.
The periodontist is able to perform a wide range of treatments. These are some of the most common tratments performed by the periodontis:
Osteoplasty – Once periodontitis has been treated, hard tissues can be recontured to make the smile more natural looking.
Gingivoplasty – As gums recede due to periodontitis, the teeth may appear longer. The periodontist can remove tissues or straighten the gum line to make the teeth look more even.
Bone grafting – Dental implants can only be placed if there is sufficient bone to attach the implant to. If bone loss has occurred, bone grafting is an excellent way to add bone.
Deep pocket cleanings – As gingivitis and periodontitis progress, it becomes more difficult to clean the pockets between the soft tissues and the teeth. The periodontist can scale and root plane the teeth to remove debris and bacteria.
Crown lengthening – In order to expose more of the natural tooth, the periodontist can remove some of the surrounding gingival tissue that covers the tooth.