What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that affect the gums and other structures that support the teeth, such as the bone and connective tissues.
Periodontists receive extensive training in the management of periodontal disease, as well as in the placement of dental implants and other types of periodontal surgery. They also have advanced knowledge of the connections between oral health and systemic health, and can help diagnose and treat conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases that may have oral manifestations.
Some of the most common conditions that periodontists treat include gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis), gum recession, bone loss around teeth, and tooth loss. They may use a variety of treatments to address these conditions, such as scaling and root planing, gum grafts, bone grafts, and dental implants.
What does a Periodontist do?
Periodontists play a crucial role in maintaining and restoring the health of the gums and other supporting structures of the teeth. Periodontal disease is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
A periodontist receives advanced training in the management of periodontal disease and has the expertise to diagnose and treat a range of oral health issues related to the gums and supporting structures. By working closely with patients to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease, periodontists help to improve oral health, reduce the risk of tooth loss, and improve overall systemic health.
Duties and Responsibilities
Here are some of the most common duties and responsibilities of a periodontist:
- Diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease: A periodontist has the expertise to diagnose and treat periodontal disease, which is a condition that affects the gums and other supporting structures of the teeth. They use a variety of tools and techniques, such as X-rays, clinical exams, and periodontal probes, to assess the health of the gums and determine the severity of periodontal disease.
- Gum disease treatment: Periodontists provide treatment for gum disease, such as scaling and root planing, which involves removing plaque and tartar from below the gum line, and periodontal surgery, which may involve gum grafts, bone grafts, or other procedures to restore the health of the gums and supporting structures.
- Dental implant placement: Periodontists are experts in the placement of dental implants, which are artificial tooth roots that are used to support a dental prosthesis, such as a crown, bridge, or denture. They have specialized training in implant placement techniques and can help to restore the function and aesthetics of a patient's smile.
- Management of systemic health issues: Periodontists are trained to recognize and manage the connections between oral health and systemic health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. They work with patients to develop personalized treatment plans that address both their oral health and overall health.
- Patient education: Periodontists play a critical role in educating patients about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits to prevent periodontal disease and other oral health issues. They may also provide information on diet, smoking cessation, and other lifestyle factors that can impact oral and systemic health.
A day in the life of a periodontist can vary depending on their practice setting, patient load, and specific responsibilities. However, here's a general overview of what a day might look like for a periodontist:
- Patient consultations: Periodontists typically begin their day with patient consultations, during which they assess the health of their patients' gums, discuss treatment options, and answer any questions or concerns the patient may have.
- Periodontal procedures: Depending on the day's schedule, a periodontist may perform a range of periodontal procedures, such as scaling and root planing, gum grafts, bone grafts, or dental implant placement. These procedures may be performed under local anesthesia or conscious sedation, depending on the patient's needs.
- Administrative tasks: Like any healthcare provider, a periodontist may spend a portion of their day on administrative tasks, such as reviewing patient records, coordinating care with other providers, and managing billing and insurance paperwork.
- Continuing education: Periodontists must stay up-to-date with the latest advances in their field to provide the best possible care to their patients. This may involve attending conferences, workshops, or other educational events.
- Patient follow-up: After performing procedures or consultations, a periodontist may spend time following up with patients to ensure their recovery is progressing as expected and to address any concerns that may arise.
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What is the workplace of a Periodontist like?
Periodontists can work in a variety of settings, including private practices, dental clinics, hospitals, and academic institutions. Private practices are the most common workplace for periodontists, where they typically work alongside other dental specialists and general dentists to provide comprehensive oral health care to patients.
In a private practice, a periodontist may have their own office or share space with other providers. They may have their own support staff, such as dental assistants or hygienists, who help to prepare patients for procedures, assist during procedures, and provide post-operative care. Depending on the size of the practice, a periodontist may see anywhere from a few to several dozen patients per day.
Dental clinics and hospitals are other common workplaces for periodontists. In these settings, periodontists may work alongside other dental and medical specialists to provide care to patients with more complex or severe periodontal disease. This may involve collaborating with oral and maxillofacial surgeons, prosthodontists, or other dental specialists to develop comprehensive treatment plans for patients.
In academic institutions, periodontists may work as researchers, educators, or clinical instructors. They may be involved in conducting research on periodontal disease, teaching and mentoring dental students, or providing clinical instruction to dental residents and fellows.
Frequently Asked Questions
Doctor Specializations and Degrees
The following is a comprehensive list of the various specializations that a doctor can pursue and a brief summary of each specialization:
- Allergist: An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, and related conditions. Allergists have specialized training in the recognition and management of allergic reactions.
- Anesthesiologist: An anesthesiologist keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic.
- Cardiologist: A cardiologist specializes in finding, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart, the arteries, and the veins.
- Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in surgical procedures inside the thorax (the chest), which may involve the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.
- Chiropractic Neurologist: A chiropractic neurologist is a specialized type of chiropractor who has undergone additional training in the field of neurology. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system.
- Chiropractor: A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. Treatment is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
- Colorectal Surgeon: A colorectal surgeon specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract. These surgeons work closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.
- Doctor: An general overview of what a doctor does and how to become one.
- Dentist: Dentists identify potential oral health issues such as gum disease, as well as examine patients, order medical tests and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. They also perform oral surgery and remove teeth or address other dental health problems.
- Dermatologist: A dermatologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, sweat and oil glands, nails, and mucus membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) which can include cancer.
- Emergency Medicine Physician: An emergency medicine physician works in emergency departments, hospitals, and urgent care clinics, and is often the first medical professional that patients see when they are in need of urgent medical care.
- Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing conditions and diseases related to the glands and hormones. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for conditions and diseases directly related to glands and hormones they will typically send a patient to an endocrinologist.
- Family Practitioner: A family practitioner specializes in caring for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a wide array of medical issues.
- Forensic Pathologist: A forensic pathologist investigates the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, and is able to determine how a person died by performing an autopsy and studying tissue and laboratory results. These doctors are often called upon to provide evidence in court regarding the cause and time of such deaths.
- Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist has specific training in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This may include diseases and disorders that affect the the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
- Geriatrician: A geriatrician specializes in the care of elderly patients, and often works with patients who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related cognitive and functional impairments.
- Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in women's reproductive systems. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
- Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, such as anemia and leukemia.
- Hospitalist: A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.
- Immunologist: An immunologist specializes in managing problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. A smaller number of immunologists are strictly researchers seeking to better understand how the immune system works and to help develop better ways of diagnosing and providing treatment for many immunological conditions.
- Infectious Disease Specialist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
- Internist: An internist is a 'doctor of internal medicine' who can diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex illness. They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
- Medical Examiner: Medical examiners are responsible for performing autopsies and collecting evidence related to the circumstances of a death, including medical history, physical examination findings, and toxicology tests.
- Naturopathic Physician: A naturopathic physician blends modern scientific medical practice and knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. The goal is to treat the underlying causes of disease while stimulating the body's own healing abilities.
- Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. They treat conditions such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances.
- Neurologist: A neurologist specializes in treating diseases that affect the human nervous system. It is a very prestigious and difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
- Neurosurgeon: A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
- Obstetrician: An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
- Occupational Physician: Occupational medicine is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health.
- Oncologist: An oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three primary types of oncologists are: medical oncologists that specialize in the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells; surgical oncologists that perform surgical procedures to identify and remove cancerous tumors; and radiation oncologists that treat cancer with radiation therapy.
- Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a specialist that deals specifically with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Due to the complexities and the importance of the eye as a special sense that provides vision, the discipline of ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this organ.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues. Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.
- Orthopaedic Surgeon / Orthopedist: An orthopaedic surgeon (or orthopedist) examines, diagnoses, and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
- Orthodontist: An orthodontist specializes in how the jaws and teeth are aligned. They help people whose teeth are misaligned or require some kind of correction – those with an improper bite, or malocclusion.
- Osteopath: Osteopaths have attended and graduated from an osteopathic medical school and practise the system of healthcare known as osteopathy. They consider all aspects of the patient, not just the symptoms they exhibit. They see the integrated nature of the body’s organ systems and its capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
- Otolaryngologist: Otolaryngologists (or ENT physicians) are specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.
- Pathologist: A pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of disease. The field of pathology is broad with concentrations on changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of a disease.
- Pediatrician: A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to infants, children and teenagers by administering treatments, therapies, medications and vaccinations to treat illness, disorders or injuries.
- Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in oral inflammation, and who knows how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease.
- Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, and also in repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, illness or malformation.
- Podiatrist: A podiatrist practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, podiatry is practiced as a specialty.
- Prosthodontist: A prosthodontist specializes in restoring the look, function, comfort, and health of a patient's oral cavity with artificial materials. These artificial materials are made up of a wide variety of restorations that include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and oral implants.
- Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.
- Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions and diseases of the chest, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections.
- Radiologist: A radiologist is a specialist in interpreting medical images that may be obtained with x-rays, (CT scans or radiographs), nuclear medicine (involving radioactive substances, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound.
- Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
- Sports Medicine Physician: A sports medicine physician specializes in taking care of people who have sports injuries that may be acquired from playing sports, exercising, or from otherwise being physically active.
- Surgeon: A surgeon performs surgery for the purpose of removing diseased tissue or organs, to repair body systems, or to replace diseased organs with transplants.
- Telemedicine Physician: A telemedicine physician provides remote healthcare services to patients using telecommunications technology, facilitating virtual consultations, diagnoses, and treatment recommendations.
- Urologist: A urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male reproductive organs. There are also specific specialty areas that urologists may choose to focus on, such as pediatric urology, male infertility, and urologic oncology.
- Vascular Medicine Specialist - A vascular medicine specialist specializes in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels. They may work with patients who have conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or pulmonary embolism.
- Vascular Surgeon - A vascular surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels, including aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins.
- Veterinary Dentist - A veterinary dentist is a specialized veterinarian who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of dental diseases and conditions in animals. They perform dental procedures such as cleanings, extractions, and oral surgeries to improve the oral health and well-being of pets and other animals.
- Naturopathic Medicine
- Osteopathic Medicine
- Podiatric Medicine
- Veterinary Medicine
Dentistry Related Careers and Degrees
- Dental Assistant
- Dental Hygienist
- Dental Laboratory Assistant
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
- Pediatric Dentist
- Veterinary Dentist
Periodontists are also known as:
Gum Disease Specialist Periodontal Dentist