YES, we have reopened and are following all recommended infection control processes so that your visit is both safe and comfortable. We encourage you to seek treatment today if you feel you may have a gum disease issue - your oral health directly affects your overall health. Call 718.878.4878 or fill out our contact form so we can get in touch.

What Is the Difference Between a Dentist and a Periodontist?

You’ve likely heard of the titles dentist and periodontist. While most people fully understand what a dentist is and the services they provide, most are not familiar with a periodontist.

Believe it or not, although both professionals treat teeth, they are not the same. According to studies, 46% of adults over the age of 30 have gum disease. In those cases, a periodontist is needed. 

If you’re asking yourself, “What is the difference between a dentist and a periodontist”? We’ll explain it to you in this guide. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is the Difference Between a Dentist and a Periodontist?

Periodontists specialize in treating gum disease. Bleeding gums can cause deteriorating oral health and other medical issues, such as heart disease and stroke. Some of the most common signs that it’s time to visit a periodontist are the following:

  • Loose teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • Constant bad breath
  • Receding gum line
  • Red, tender, or inflamed gums
  • Long teeth
  • Gum bleeding when you brush or floss

A periodontist degree is needed to treat these types of conditions. In school, they are trained to be knowledgeable about the bone and tissue that surrounds the teeth.

On the other hand, a general dentist performs routine maintenance along with other services.

Dentist vs. Periodontist

One of the biggest contrasts between a dentist and a periodontist is the services they perform. You’ll likely visit a regular dentist when you need services like routine check-ups, cleaning, and x-rays.

Although they are credentialed differently from periodontists, general dentists are extremely important. They help to keep your oral health in good standing and hopefully prevent you from severe conditions like gum disease.

Also, a dentist will likely be the professional who notices the signs of periodontal disease and refers you to a specialist. Here are some of the services that a dentist provides:

  • Teeth cleanings
  • X-rays
  • Root canal
  • Crowns and bridges
  • Standard tooth extractions
  • Fillings
  • Cosmetic dentistry
  • Routine dental check-ups
  • Basic deep cleanings

Periodontist vs. Dentist

A periodontist goes to school to learn how to manage the supporting structures of the teeth. They diagnose and treat the gums and jawbone.

To have healthy teeth, the gums also need to be healthy. If they’re not, they can become infected and unable to support your teeth.

The only way to help this type of condition is to enhance the health of your gums, which is what a periodontist does. Below are some of the services that periodontists provide:

  • Crown lengthening
  • Wisdom tooth extractions
  • Gum grafting
  • Periodontal bone graft
  • Full mouth rehabilitation
  • Tori removal
  • Flap debridement
  • Frenectomy
  • Gingivectomy

To earn a degree to become a dentist, it requires an undergraduate and dental degree.

On the contrary, periodontists must obtain an additional two to three years of education after finishing dental school.

During their training, they learn about surgical procedures, periodontal treatment, dental implant placement, and non-surgical procedures.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a result of bacterial growth in the mouth. It can lead to tooth loss due to damage to the tissue that surrounds the teeth.

Before gum disease forms, it’s usually preceded by gingivitis, which is gum inflammation. However, not all gingivitis turns into periodontitis. When gingivitis begins, the bacteria in plaque builds up and causes the gums to become swollen.

The inflammation causes the gums to bleed when flossing and brushing easily. If gingivitis goes untreated, then it will progress into periodontitis.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Several factors contribute to a person getting gum disease. Here are some of the factors:

Bad Oral Hygiene

Not brushing your teeth or flossing every day makes it easier for gingivitis to occur. The best way to combat it is with consistent oral care. Otherwise, your mouth becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to various kinds of oral diseases.

Bad Habits

Smoking is detrimental to your gums and teeth. When you smoke, it makes it more difficult for gum tissue to repair itself. Not only will it damage your teeth and gums, but it causes other health issues as well.

Health Conditions

Diseases affecting other parts of your body can also damage your gums. Illnesses like cancer or HIV disrupt the immune system. Therefore the body is more prone to infections, which include cavities and periodontal disease.

Family History

Some oral diseases are genetic. Even if you have good oral hygiene, it could run in the family. If you know this to be true about your family history, the best way to prevent it is by taking care of your oral health and visiting the dentist regularly.

Periodontist Treatment

Luckily, there are treatments available to help you restore the health of your teeth and gums. Below are the most common periodontal treatments:

Tissue Regeneration

When your gum tissues become damaged, grafting procedures are used to activate regrowth. A membrane is put into the affected area to promote the regeneration process. The procedure rebuilds the damaged area.

Dental Implants

Sometimes periodontal disease causes a person to lose their teeth. If this happens, the tooth can be restored by implanting prosthetic teeth into the jaw bone. However, teeth regeneration might be needed before adding a dental implant to strengthen the bone structure.


To ensure the continued health of gum tissue, the pockets are cleaned and treated with antibiotics. To further eliminate infection, a medicated mouthwash may be prescribed to incorporate into your daily oral routine.

Restore Your Oral Health 

What is the difference between a dentist and a periodontist? We hope we thoroughly answered that question in this article.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease listed above, it’s imperative to see a periodontist as soon as possible.

Do you need a gum specialist? If so, we can help. Our experienced periodontist provides a variety of services, including laser gum treatment and more.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or give us a call at 718-878-4878. We look forward to helping you improve your smile!

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