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What is a Periodontist?

17 January 2022

A Periodontist is a dentist who has undergone additional training to specialise in the management of the supporting tissues around teeth. This training also includes the placement and management of dental implants.

What treatment does a Periodontist offer?

Functional procedures include the management of severe gum disease to allow patients to keep their natural teeth for as long as possible. This includes bone grafting to restore lost bone and gum recontouring procedures to reduce gum pockets.

Periodontal management also includes the management of inflammation and bone loss that occurs around dental implants (peri-implantitis).

Other procedures include biopsy of abnormal lesions on the gums.

A periodontist also offers aesthetic treatment such as gum recession coverage, crown lengthening to reduce the amount of gum show on smiling and also dental implants.

This broad knowledge and advanced training in the grafting of both bone and gum tissue gives a periodontist the ideal skill base for providing optimal aesthetics and long term success for both teeth and dental implants.

What is the difference between a Periodontist and a hygienist?

Both clinicians are involved in the treatment of gum disease. A periodontist’s advanced training equips them to deal with more advanced cases.

Management of gum disease often requires multiple phases of treatment. A periodontist has the skill set to manage every step in this process where as a hygienist is qualified to perform the initial phases.

Management is therefore often provided using a team approach with hygienists performing the first stage of treatment and a periodontist providing the more advanced stages where required.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease (‘Periodontal Disease’) is a condition that affects approximately 40% of the population to some extent. In early stages it causes inflammation and bleeding of the gums. This can then lead the gums losing their attachment to the teeth and therefore a gap or ‘pocket’ forms beneath the gums which collects bacteria that cause this condition to progress. In later stages this develops into bone loss occurring around the teeth which if not controlled will cause wobbly teeth and premature tooth loss.

What does gum disease treatment involve?

An average case involves 4 stages:

  1. Oral hygiene instruction and cleaning above the gum line – there will always be bacteria within the mouth, it cannot be fully eliminated, however, regularly disrupting the build of the bacteria can prevent them from having their harmful effects.
  2. Deep cleaning (root surface debridement) – this involves cleaning below the gum line.
  3. Review – and where necessary referral to a periodontist to perform advanced surgical procedures to manage any residual gum pockets.
  4. Maintenance – once treatment is complete it is very important to maintain the results achieved via regular cleaning with a dental hygienist. Gum disease is a chronic condition and therefore is at risk of returning / relapsing. Regular maintenance cleaning reduces the risk of this occurring.


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