What You Should Know: the Difference between a General Dentist and a PeriodontistMarch 9, 2020 5:26 am
If you need to see the dentist, the list of names can be confusing. Do you need to see a general dentist, or a periodontist? What’s the difference? And when should you see them? Here we explain the difference between a general dentist and a periodontist, and advise on best practice for visiting both.
- What’s the difference?
It’s really very simple – a general dentist is the doctor you should be seeing every six months at the least, to check on the condition of your teeth. They will work with you to ensure you have good oral hygiene habits, and healthy teeth and gums. A periodontist is a specialist that diagnoses and treats gum problems. A dentist will work hard to prevent you ever having to see the periodontist!
- Are there similarities between the two?
Both have extensive education. In the UK, dentists take a five-year undergraduate degree before one or two years of vocational training. In the US, dentists require an undergraduate degree, then four years of dental school that includes education and clinical experience. In both regions, a periodontist then needs a minimum of a further three years of gum specialist trainingand graduate studies on top of that. All practitioners must have a dental licence – be sure to check if you are in doubt.
- When do I need to see a dentist?
Your dentist performs a health check-up on the teeth, the gums – in fact all of the mouth – for general and everyday problems. They will perform the most common treatmentsyou might experience like cleaning, filling cavities, andtooth extractions. You should see a dentist every six months to ensure the best mouth health.This all means that the dentist will normally be the one to refer you to the periodontist, if they think you need to see them.
- When do I need to see a periodontist?
A periodontist focuseson only treating the gums and bones that support the teeth.They have had specialised education and training in the periodontium – also known as soft tissue (that is, your gums) and bone. So, a periodontist takes care of gum disease cases. These can be either in the early stages, where the condition is called gingivitis – this normally involves an inflammation of the gums and not much more. In fact, it’s likely your general dentist will be able to help fix this for you. In its advanced stages, gum disease is referred to as periodontitis.At this point the bone and tissue have become damaged, and bacteria and plaque-filled ‘pockets’ have formed around the teeth. In advanced periodontitis,the damage is so severe that teeth may have to be removed. Generally, a periodontist will look after these kinds of serious, severe or complicated cases. If you just have sore gums, then your general dentist can likely offer treatment to prevent progression to the more serious forms of gum disease. In summary – the periodontistis a gum specialist that knows all there is to know about your gums, tissue, and bones, and is the ideal specialist to advise on any kind of problem involving the gums.
- What if I’m not sure?
First of all – make sure you visit your general dentist regularly, so problems can be spotted and treated early on. If you notice any problems with your teeth or gums or have any pain, you should schedule a visit with your dentist regardless of when your last visit took place. If you have experienced any of the symptoms of gum disease, such as bleeding gums when brushing or eating, continual bad breath, receding gums or loose teeth, then it is definitely time to see a dental professional – no matter who. If you have another condition that may be related to gum health, such as heart disease or diabetes, then you may also be referred to a periodontist for an in-depth look. See your dentist as your first point of contact,and he or she will advise if you need specialist help. You can then seek out the best gum specialist in Dubai. It’s really important not to delay – if gum disease is untreated, you could lose your teeth.
- The treatment a periodontist will offer
The best periodontist in Dubai will firstly conduct a full exam of your teeth and bones. They will be highly trained in the necessary surgical and non-surgical procedures, and may be able to perform certain treatments there and then instead of waiting for another appointment. These forms of treatment could include soft tissue work such as root planing, deep gum and pocket cleaning, and tissue removal. Surgical options could include bone grafts, hard tissue work, or tooth removal or implant replacement. This all might sound a little overwhelming, but most importantly – seeing a periodontist in Dubai means your problem will be stopped in its tracks. They are there to prevent further damage and help restore your teeth and gums to their best possible state.
- When they work together
A periodontist and dentist often work closely together on long term cases, to provide preventative care as well as surgical and non-surgical treatment. For example, if periodontitis has resulted in receding gums or lost teeth, then you might have a cosmetic graft or implant treatment after curing the gum disease. The best periodontist in Dubai might also offer these cosmetic procedures themselves. Often a dentist and periodontist will work at the same clinic – so it’s easy to visit both.
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