Differences Between a Dentist and Periodontist in Rochester

by | Apr 1, 2022

Though people may use the terms interchangeably, there are critical differences between a general dentist and a periodontist in Rochester. If you’ve been referred to a periodontist by your regular dentist, you may be wondering what the difference is and why you need to see a specialist.

You need to see a periodontist if you have periodontal disease, otherwise known as gum disease. Unlike a general dentist who treats conditions of the teeth, gums, and other areas of the mouth, a periodontist specializes in treating the gums and the bone that supports the teeth. Learn more about the differences between a dentist and a periodontist.

Different Specialties

The main difference between a dentist and a periodontist lies in their specialties. Dentists diagnose and treat teeth, gums, and mouth issues, while also offering preventative oral care and providing guidance on oral hygiene best practices.

A periodontist is a type of dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of periodontal disease. Periodontists are experts in caring for gum disease and oral inflammation and provide services like dental implants, gum surgery, and more.

Care and Treatment

Dentists are equipped to diagnose and treat damaged or decaying teeth and mildly diseased gums. They clean teeth, conduct oral exams, extract teeth, fill cavities, and provide oral health education among other services. Like a family physician, your general dentist looks at all aspects of your oral health, referring you to specialists as needed.

On the other hand, a periodontist specializes in treating moderate to severe periodontal disease. They may use non-surgical interventions like deep scaling and planing of an infected root. They also perform periodontal surgery, and laser therapy. Additionally, periodontists specialize in advanced surgical interventions like regenerative surgery and dental implant placement.

Educational Backgrounds

Dentists have a solid educational background. Along with an undergraduate degree, dentists must attend dental school in a four-year program that combines education and clinical experience. Dentists must also pass written and practical exams to earn their licenses.1

Periodontists have an even more extensive education, including an undergraduate degree, four years of dental school, and three years of extended university plus doctorate training in a specialized program afterward. They attain licenses through written and practical exams. In addition to be board-certified, they must pass a national board exam and maintain ongoing continuing education in the field of their specialty to keep their certification.

About Gum Disease

You may be referred to a periodontist to treat gum disease, a severe gum infection that can damage the soft tissue and bone around your teeth. Without treatment, gum disease can cause loss of the bone that supports the teeth, leading to loose or missing teeth.

Gum disease is preventable and typically arises from poor oral hygiene. Twice-daily brushing and flossing, and regular dental exams can maintain gum and tooth health, though other factors contribute to gum disease.

These other factors include:

  • Smoking or other tobacco use
  • Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS
  • Hormonal changes
  • Obesity
  • Recreational drug use
  • Poor nutrition
  • Certain medications

The symptoms of gum disease include: 3

  • Swollen gums
  • Bright red or purplish gums
  • Sore gums
  • Gums that bleed easily, such as from brushing or flossing
  • Signs of bleeding, such as a pink toothbrush after brushing or spitting out blood after brushing or flossing
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Pus between the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain or discomfort, especially while chewing
  • Shifting teeth
  • Receding gums
  • A change in bite
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold (or both)

Treatment for Gum Disease From a Periodontist in Rochester

Gum disease requires special care and treatment from a periodontist in Rochester. Dental Implants and Periodontal Health of Rochester offers individualized patient care to leave your mouth looking and feeling its best. Call us at 585-685-2005 or contact us online to schedule your consultation!

[1] https://www.ada.org/resources/careers/practicing-dentistry
[2] https://www.perio.org/for-patients/what-is-a-periodontist/
[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/periodontitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354473


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