Why Choose a Periodontist?
Periodontists are Dental Specialists for the Gums
Periodontists are Specialists in Treating Gum Disease
Periodontists receive at least 3 additional years of specialized study on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the diseases and infections that affect the soft tissues (gums) and bone inside the mouth.
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the diseases and infections that affect the soft tissues and bone inside the mouth. In addition to four years of dental school, periodontists also complete at least 3 more years of specialized study. This extra education includes advanced techniques required to treat and diagnose periodontal disease and place dental implants. Periodontists are also highly trained in a wide range of cosmetic procedures.
The American Dental Association recognizes periodontics as one of eight specialties within the dental field. As specialists, periodontists can offer an array of treatments, from minimally invasive to full oral surgery. Depending on your particular case, a periodontist can find the treatment option that best suits your needs.
Typically, your general dentist will refer you to a periodontist for a consultation. This may happen when they notice signs of periodontal disease, missing teeth, or if you express dissatisfaction with parts of your smile that a periodontist will be able to help improve. A dentist referral brings several benefits, including coordination of care between offices, information sharing, and a full knowledge of your patient history for targeted care.
It is also easy to find a periodontist online, as many now have websites that list their qualifications and explain the procedures they perform, their financial policies, and their philosophy of care. When choosing a periodontist, it is important to look at several in your area and pick one that is well trained in the procedures that you would like done. Keep in mind that each periodontist approaches his or her practice differently, so the two most important qualities for any periodontist to have are up-to-date training and a desire to help their patients make informed decisions about their treatment.
What to expect at your first visit:
Your reasons for going to a periodontist are unique, but the first visit to their office will help you and the periodontist learn more about each other, what treatment you need, and what your options are.
The visit will begin with an evaluation of your dental and medical history. It is important to list any medical problems, as many diseases can be linked to your mouth and gums. You will also be asked to list any medication, such as oral contraceptives or antihypertensive medication, as they can have effects on parts of your mouth or periodontal treatment.
Smokers will be advised to quit. Smoking, which increases the risk of periodontal disease, also worsens the disease if you already have it. It can also impair the healing process. Quitting is most important for those undergoing gum surgery.
The visit will also include and examination of your:
- head, neck and jaw joints
- mouth and throat
- teeth and gums
The periodontist will also take X-rays of your entire mouth, including every tooth, the jaw, and other oral structures.
The examination will help your periodontist come up with a customized treatment plan that he or she will then discuss with you. You should always ask questions about anything that is unclear or that you do not understand. It is important that you are fully aware of your treatment options, the consequences of delaying treatment, financial plans, and alternatives available to you. Your periodontist is there to discuss all of these topics with you to your satisfaction.