• 13 May 2024
  • Professor Alessandro Quaranta

Last updated on May 13, 2024

Navigating the world of dental health can feel like learning a whole new language. With terms like periodontics, orthodontics and general dentistry expressions floating around, it’s easy to find yourself scratching your head and wondering ‘what is a periodontist?’ and what do they do?

Our friendly experts at Smile Specialist Suite are here to demystify and answer all your questions about one of these key terms: periodontics.

What Do Periodontists Do?

So, what is a periodontist? Periodontists are highly skilled dental specialists specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of gum diseases ranging from mild gingivitis to advanced periodontitis. They also treat and care for gum and jawbone loss conditions, mucogingival (gum) deformities, implant surgery and the associated bone and gum grafting procedures.

They treat oral health issues that affect your periodontium – the tissue around your teeth. This includes:

  • Gingiva: Gums
  • Periodontal ligament: Connective tissue fibres which attach your teeth to the jawbone. Periodontal ligament is a kind of “shock absorber” for the tooth
  • Alveolar bone: The area around your jawbone that has tooth sockets
  • Cementum: A hard layer of calcified tissue which covers your teeth roots

Specialists Periodontists perform thorough cleaning procedures (often known as deep clean) such as periodontal debridement (also known with the technical term full mouth disinfection, or the more contemporary approach to the historic scaling and root planing), prescribe treatments to combat infection and are skilled in the surgical placement of dental implants.

Understanding ‘what is a periodontist?’ involves recognising their crucial role in dental health as they play a critical role in maintaining the health and aesthetics of your smile, especially for patients experiencing or are at risk of gum diseases and conditions affecting the dental support structure.

Understanding Periodontal Treatments

Periodontal treatments comprise a range of procedures aimed at restoring gum health and supporting structures. They are crucial for preventing tooth loss and combating infections that may impact your overall oral health.

Treatments range from non-surgical procedures such as periodontal debridement (replacing the historical scaling and root planing) to remove calculus (tartar) and bacteria from your teeth to advanced surgical procedures such as guided tissue regeneration and bone grafting to regenerate lost gum and bone tissue.

periodontist, periodontal treatment

What is A Periodontist vs an Orthodontist?

When it comes to a periodontist vs orthodontist while both are specialists who help improve oral health, their areas of expertise differ significantly.

In fact, there are 13 dental specialities in Australia.

Orthodontists specialise in treating misaligned teeth and jaws, utilising methods such as braces, aligners, and retainers to enhance dental alignment and bite functionality.

On the other hand, periodontists focus on advanced gum diseases and implant procedures, providing specialised care beyond general dentistry to ensure optimal gum health and support for dental implants. We know ourselves as the plastic surgeons in dentistry.

What is A Periodontist vs Dentist?

When it comes to a periodontist vs dentist, they both help improve dental care but a periodontist is more specialised in the field of Periodontics and Implant Surgery.

Dentists offer a wide array of oral health services encompassing diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of various dental conditions, including routine cleanings, cavity fillings, and restorations.

In contrast, periodontists are gum specialists with additional postgraduate training after having practised as a dentist for some recognized years, delivering highly specialised care for complex gum issues and implant procedures, elevating the standard of gum health beyond routine dental care.

Why See a Periodontist?

One of the main reasons why your dentist would refer you to see a periodontist is because they have determined that periodontitis is present.

Periodontitis is diagnosed by close examination of the teeth and gums. If untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and other serious health issues.

Some of the signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Loose teeth
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Change in the position of your teeth
  • Bleeding when you’re brushing, flossing or eating hard foods
  • Gums that are pulling away or receding from your teeth – making your teeth look longer

You would also see a periodontist if you have gum disease or dental implant disease.

Other reasons you might need to see a periodontist could be because you need to undergo a treatment which is outside the scope of a general dentist. These may include:

  • Dental implants, especially cases that are complex requiring bone and gum augmentation
  • Aesthetic treatments for a gummy smile or missing front teeth

How Can a Periodontist Help?

A periodontist will perform a very thorough review of your medical history and examine your teeth, gums and oral structures to determine what treatment is appropriate and necessary.

At times, a simple clean is all that’s required, while in other circumstances, surgical treatment may be recommended if the bone supporting the teeth has been damaged.

Some of the treatments that a periodontist can do include:

  • Periodontal treatments involve thoroughly cleaning the gaps ( pockets) surrounding your teeth and implants to arrest or slow down the damage to the supporting gum and bone
  • Aesthetics dental surgery for aesthetic improvements to your mouth or smile
  • Dental bone graft for when there is not enough bone for a dental implant or bridge
  • Gum graft when inadequate healthy gum remains or when gum recessions present
  • Dental implants which are placed into the jawbone through minor periodontal surgery
  • Emergency treatments such as broken teeth, gum abscesses, swelling and bleeding

The Importance of Periodontal Health

Healthy gums and bones are vital to the health of your teeth because they are the foundations of the teeth. Periodontists specialise in the care of gums and the surrounding tissue of your teeth. Whether you’re facing gum disease or looking for aesthetic dental surgery, a periodontist possesses the expertise, training, and experience necessary to address the issue and help you maintain good oral health.


Can periodontitis be cured?

Periodontitis can be treated successfully, although there is a high risk of recurrence for the rest of the life. If you have early to moderate periodontitis, it can take about weeks to months for you to recover from it and only with proper intervention such as periodontal debridement.. For severe periodontitis, the recovery times will vary depending on the treatment received.

Can periodontists do general dentistry?

Yes, periodontists can perform routine procedures that a general dentist typically provides, but they specialise in oral health issues that affect the periodontium.

How to treat periodontitis?

It depends on the severity of your periodontitis. The first step typically involves periodontal debridement (aka full mouth disinfection). If you have more severe periodontitis, you may be looking at more advanced surgical procedures as well.

How do I know if I should go to a dentist or periodontist?

If you’ve noticed pain, bleeding or problems with your gums, recurrent or persistent bad breath. Your dentist can sometimes manage these issues, but if you have gum disease or more complex problems with your gums, your dentist will refer you to a periodontist accordingly for your best care.

Professor Alessandro Quaranta

About The Author

Professor Alessandro Quaranta

Professor Alessandro Quaranta (Prof Q) has been in specialist practice for 15 years since completing his specialist training from the “University of Rome,” La Sapienza”, the top university in Italy* and the largest University in Europe.

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