Periodontist vs. Dentist: What Are the Differences?

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( — January 10, 2022) —

Almost half of American adults over the age of 30 have some stage or form of gum disease. As a result, it’s time that more of us become familiar with the difference between a periodontist vs. dentist. 

Gum disease, aka periodontal disease, can cause bad breath, tooth sensitivity, and even the loss of permanent teeth. The good news is that with the help of professionals, you can get the care you need!

Whether you need the help of a periodontist or a dentist, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on as we discuss the differences between a periodontist vs. dentist.

What Is a Periodontist?

A periodontist is, in the simplest terms, a gum specialist. Their area of focus is in both the soft tissue and the bone that support the teeth and jaw.

Periodontal work can involve both surgical and non-surgical procedures including gum grafting and dental implants. If you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed, you probably did so at a periodontist’s office! 

Some gum treatments can be performed by the dentist you see on a regular basis. However, dentists will often refer their patients to a periodontist if the patients need treatment that is outside of the scope of regular dentistry. 

Why do periodontists have the ability to perform some procedures that your dentist can’t? Periodontists complete the same dental schooling as dentists. However, they then go on to complete an additional 2-3 years of periodontal education, making them specialists in that area.

What Is a Dentist?

Most of us have a general idea of what a dentist is. You go to the dentist twice a year for your dental cleanings, which are completed with the help of dental hygienists. Your dentist can also perform more specialized procedures like filling in cavities or pulling problem teeth.

However, dentists often offer a wide array of elective or cosmetic procedures, as well. They not only care about your oral health but also the confidence you feel in your smile!

We tend to associate cosmetic dentistry with orthodontists, who can provide patients with braces or other teeth-straightening devices. However, many dentists can also assist with cosmetic dentistry.

For example, some dentists will offer to cover your teeth with veneers, giving you a brighter, more uniform smile. You can learn more about veneers and other cosmetic dentistry procedures to find out if these procedures are right for you.

Know When You Need a Periodontist vs. Dentist

If you have been experiencing some of the symptoms of gum disease (aka periodontal disease), talk to your dentist about the next steps. Chances are, they’ll want to talk to you about the differences between a periodontist vs. dentist. From there, they may give you a referral to see a periodontist to address those needs.

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