When to See a Periodontist

Posted on: December 2, 2017

PeriodontistTaking care of your oral health is important and it is even more important to know which dental expert to go to depending on your needs. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease. A periodontist also specializes in the placement of dental implants.

Periodontists can provide treatment of oral inflammation. after going through extensive training in these areas with an additional three years of residency training. Periodontics is one of only eight specialties that the American Dental Association recognizes.

Learn more about periodontists

Periodontal specialists complete two to three years of residency training after their four years of dental school. During residency, periodontists train in the surgical skills, procedures and research-based knowledge supporting that treatment. The successful applicant receives a certificate or diploma in their specialty.

The Periodontal specialist can then pursue becoming a Board-certified Periodontist. This is a three-year process that involves multiple tiers of rigid examinations to ensure that the individual meets the highest standards. Once the individual passes the rigorous testing before the specialty board, the Periodontist is then Board-certified and receives Diplomatic status in their specialty.

Only about 2,000 periodontists have achieved Diplomate status since 1939. The recognized standard-setting organization for Periodontists is the American Board of Periodontology. Improved technology has made implants easier to place but the practitioner must still assess and treat each case individually to ensure a predictable and successful outcome.

Gum disease treatment

Periodontists are experts in gum disease treatment. Gum disease (or periodontal disease) affects millions of people every year, and it is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. Yet many people have no idea they have gum disease until they develop loose teeth or severe pain. That’s because gum disease often causes few symptoms in its early stages, making it easy to overlook until major problems occur.

Your periodontal disease may progress to the point where only a Periodontist may be able to help you. Periodontists receive extensive training, including 3 additional years beyond dental school, in order to learn state-of-the-art techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal diseases.

Dental implants

Periodontists are also experts with dental implants. A periodontal certification is representative of that practitioner’s overall knowledge, skills and clinical judgment. A periodontist knows when the situation is just right to place the implant. A periodontist knows how to place the implant with functional, restorative and esthetic considerations. A periodontist also knows what adjunctive procedures may be necessary before, during and after implant placement.

While a general dentist can meet some periodontal needs, there are multiple signs that a professional periodontist is necessary. As more and more patients are exhibiting signs of periodontal disease, coupled with research that suggests a relationship between periodontal disease and other chronic diseases of aging, periodontal treatment may necessitate a greater understanding and increased the level of expertise by a trained specialist. Any patient with the following should see a Periodontist:

• Severe chronic periodontitis

• Furcation involvement

• Vertical/angular bony defect(s)

• Aggressive periodontitis (formerly known as juvenile, early-onset, or rapidly progressive periodontitis)

• Periodontal abscess and other acute periodontal conditions

• Significant root surface exposure and/or progressive gingival recession

• Peri-implant disease

• Any patient with periodontal diseases, regardless of severity, who the referring dentist prefers not to treat

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