Should you visit your family dentist when you need a dental implant or gum treatment? If you answered yes, than you may be slightly wrong. This is the time when the functions of periodontist rather than dentist come into play. You may be visiting your dentist regularly when your tooth decays or you need a cavity filled, but sometimes your teeth need more than a simple tooth extraction and this is where a periodontist comes handy.
Who exactly is a periodontist and how is it different from a dentist? Well, Periodontists are those individuals with educational courses beyond dental school extended to periodontics which focuses on gums and bones. Dentistry includes treatment of mild gum diseases through regular cleaning, root planing, antibiotics, and scaling, but a Periodontist treats more advanced cases which are known as periodontitis. Periodontitis is a technical term for an advanced bacterial infection that affect the gums and sometimes even the bones in your mouth. Therefore, the main difference between dentists and periodontists is the way your gums are treated. In short, Periodontists diagnose and treat periodontal disease, while dentists will have a cure for your tooth problems & provide maintenance cleanings.
So how do you know when you need a dentist or a periodontist? When you need monthly cleanings, routine checkups, standard x-rays, cosmetic procedures like whitening, bonding, etc., filling cavities, root canal, and pediatric concerns, then you should visit your family dentist. But when it comes to removal of soft tissues, bone grafting, deep pocket cleaning, hard tissue outlining, and dental implants, you should consult a periodontist.
Both dentists and periodontists work in similar settings though, like individual and group practices, clinics, dental schools, and hospitals. There are some cases when dentists might refer the patient to periodontists and due to this reason both practitioners work together to give the patient the healthiest smile possible.
Both dentists and periodontists complete their dental schools after undergrad graduation, but periodontists have to complete an extra three years of training in their field. This additional training makes periodontist a specialists in his field. Both professionals must receive a dental license though; however, periodontists require an additional field specific state license.
Now that you know the difference between the two, you can easily decide which one you need to visit given the state of your oral health right now!