While a dentist can treat gums, teeth and other parts of the mouth, there are times when you should see a specialist who better understands gum disease and how to treat it. A periodontist has a more narrowly focused practice and treats only the bone supporting the teeth and the gums.

What Does a Periodontist Do?

When dentists have complex cases, they often refer the patient to a specialist or periodontist. Dentists are essentially general practitioners when it comes to the mouth and can treat decaying and injured teeth, manage routine checkups, clean and remove teeth and offer basic education for oral health to their patients.

A periodontist deals with more severe or complex cases. For example, the diagnosis and treatment for gum disease often falls to a specialist rather than a general dentist. The doctor may perform scaling or planing, which are both non-surgical procedures to treat gum disease. They may also perform oral surgery, and most periodontists are trained and educated in surgical techniques like dental implant replacement, periodontal plastic surgery and regenerative surgery.

While both professionals must graduate from dental school, a specialist will complete postdoctoral training of three years in the field. Both must have a dental license, and specialists may have a license specific to their field in the state they practice in.

Treatment for Gum Disease

One of the most important jobs of a specialist is to keep the gums healthy. Early gum disease treatment is vital to ensuring that the teeth, bone and gums are preserved, and the condition doesn’t advance. Patients may have a pocket reduction procedure, gum grafts or other type of regenerative procedures to stimulate and improve the health of the gums.

Contact Us Today

If you feel you need to see a specialist or you have been referred by your dentist for a more complex treatment, contact our office in Fairfax, VA today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Withers. Our office has the technology to provide advanced treatment for gum disease to stop the problem before it gets out of hand.