Most adults think about visiting the dentist for their oral health, but sometimes you need to see additional specialists to keep your mouth as beautiful and healthy as possible. An important type of dental specialist is the periodontist. Periodontists are dentists who have received additional training in periodontology. What exactly does that mean, and what does a periodontist really do?
What Is Periodontology?
Periodontists primarily concern themselves with gum disease and the health of bones and gums. Many patients visit the periodontist for the first time when they have early stages of gum disease or are suffering from problems with inflammation. Periodontists are able to diagnose, prevent, and treat a variety of gum and oral bone conditions.
What Types of Procedures Can a Periodontist Perform?
There are many different procedures that periodontists can perform on patients just like you. Beyond working on the gums, they also perform additional procedures, like wisdom tooth removal. Some of the most common procedures that periodontists do on a regular basis include:
Bite Adjustment: Over time, your teeth can shift. This can lead to bite issues that are uncomfortable or even painful. Periodontists can perform bite adjustments so that you always chew and speak comfortably.
Crown Lengthening: If you find that your smile feels ‘gummy’ or that you are unhappy with how much gum tissue is present around your teeth, a periodontist can perform crown lengthening for a more even and aesthetically-pleasing appearance.
Deep Cleaning: While going to the dentist for regular cleanings is an excellent idea, sometimes you need extra help. When you visit the periodontist, they can perform a deep cleaning that removes debris and plaque that is virtually impossible to get rid of on your own.
Dental Implants: When you need to replace a missing tooth, there are many different options that you can choose from. One of the most popular is dental implants. Periodontists are able to perform the initial implant surgery and see you through the rest of the implant process to replace your missing tooth or teeth.
Dentures: Another way to restore your smile is dentures. Skilled periodontists understand how to create dentures that are comfortable and functional and make you feel confident about your smile again.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction: There are many different things that can go wrong with wisdom teeth, from impaction to crowding your other teeth. Periodontists can perform oral surgery, like wisdom tooth extractions, so that your mouth is as healthy as possible.
Pocket Reduction: A periodontist can examine the severity of the pockets currently in your mouth and help with pocket reduction so that it is easier for you to keep your teeth clean at home.
Gum Grafts: Many patients have some level of periodontal disease, and when your periodontal disease is severe, you might require gum grafts to restore the health of your gums and avoid further problems. Your periodontist can provide gum grafts that seamlessly fit with your existing gums and help reduce your discomfort.
Frenectomy: Some people are born with frenulums that are too low or in a position that is awkward and must be altered. We can perform a frenectomy so that you are comfortable again.
What Are the Signs You Should See a Periodontist?
In many cases, your dentist will provide you with a referral to a periodontist. However, sometimes patients do not have a primary dentist that they visit regularly and may independently seek periodontal care. Here are some of the signs that you could benefit from making an appointment with a periodontist:
- Your gums bleed during normal brushing or flossing activity, and the blood does not lessen with regularity
- Your gums feel tender, swollen, or red
- You have persistent halitosis
- Your teeth are becoming more sensitive to hot and cold
- Your teeth feel loose
- You have noticed that your gums are receding
Your periodontist will be able to assess your oral health and determine what treatment would be best to correct your issues. While many people think of a periodontist as a specialist, the periodontist should be a regular part of your care team to ensure that your mouth is as healthy as possible.
Should You Feel Nervous If You Are Referred to the Periodontist?
Absolutely not! Many people feel self-conscious about their oral health and worry that a referral to a periodontist is a sign of major problems. However, over half of adults who are 30 and older have some form of gum disease. There is nothing wrong or shameful with needing periodontal treatment. In fact, you should be happy that you received a referral so that you are able to receive the dental care that will help your oral health the most.