Imagine a scenario; you are brushing your teeth one fine morning, and suddenly, you see blood coming out of your gums! Naturally, you panic, “what to do?” You might ask yourself, “Should I go to a general dentist or a periodontist?” Your concern and questions are understandable and very common.
However, before we discuss the situations that require a visit to the periodontist – and the ones that can be handled by a general dentist, we must understand what a periodontist is and what he or she does.
What is a Periodontist?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of problems related to the gums and the jawbone.
Gum Problems; When to Visit a Periodontist?
General dentists are sufficiently trained to handle mild to moderate and uncomplicated periodontal problems. However, the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) recommends that individuals who suffer from severe periodontal disease – and have co-existing medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or bone pathologies – must seek expert treatment from a periodontist.
In addition to their basic training as a dentist, periodontists undergo three to four years of further specialized training to treat advanced and complicated periodontal problems. If you are suffering from any of the following issues, it is best to visit your periodontist for a consultation.
1 – Change in Bite
If you observe a change in how your upper and lower teeth come together, it may be because of periodontal inflammation. Your periodontist will perform professional teeth cleaning to address this issue.
2 – Receding Gums
Receding gums indicate that periodontal inflammation is progressing into an advanced stage. If you see that your gums are receding, you need to seek periodontal treatment. Exposed root surfaces become vulnerable to root sensitivity and cavities.
3 – Loose Teeth
In advanced periodontal disease, you may feel that your teeth have become loose. Toxins released from the harmful bacteria damage the gum fibers that firmly hold your teeth in their sockets. When these fibers are destroyed, the teeth become loose and may even fall out without immediate periodontal treatment.
4 – Co-morbid Conditions
Individuals who suffer from chronic medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, renal problems, or bone pathologies are at a higher risk of developing gum disease. Research has shown that untreated medical conditions can exacerbate periodontal disease – and vice versa. Therefore, it is a good idea for senior citizens and those suffering from medical conditions to visit their periodontist at least once a year – or as recommended by their general dentist.
5 – Missing Teeth
Periodontists are also trained in the planning and placement of dental implants. Therefore, if you are looking at getting your missing teeth replaced with dental implants, it is good to visit a periodontist.
Compared with general dentists, periodontists undergo advanced training and have specialized equipment to diagnose and treat periodontal problems well before they can cause permanent damage. While general dentists can take care of minor gum problems, you must see a periodontist if your dentist feels that the inflammation has progressed into an advanced stage.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call our office at 773-481-2200 to schedule an appointment with one of our top Chicago dentists.
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