Periodontics is the field of medicine that’s concerned not with the teeth themselves, but with the structures that grow and support your teeth. It’s a specialty in dentistry where experienced dentists diagnose the diseases and conditions that affect teeth. The dentist who studies periodontics is the periodontist. Want to learn more? Here’s a quick rundown of what a periodontist is and what they do.
What Does a Periodontist Treat?
Periodontists are primarily concerned with the diseases that affect the structures that support your teeth. That means they’re primarily dealing with diseases like gingivitis, forsythia, denticola, periodontitis and other diseases that are caused by different kinds of plaque. If you don’t brush your teeth and floss, you’re likely to have to visit a periodontist at some point in your life concerning these diseases. Periodontists also offer surgical procedures and implants for your teeth, so you’ll need to see one if you need a tooth implant as well, even if it’s only for cosmetic dentistry reasons.
What Do These Diseases Do to a Person’s Health?
Your mouth is full of bacteria. That bacteria sticks to your teeth. When enough bacteria sticks to your teeth, it turns into plaque. When that plaque goes unchecked (either by brushing or flossing) it turns into tartar. You can’t remove tartar, and have to go to a professional to have it removed. You might have tartar on your teeth right now and not even know it. If that tartar stays on your teeth for long enough, it causes diseases like gingivitis, or severe diseases like periodontitis. These diseases cause inflammation, bleeding, infection, and periodontitis even starts to break down the bones that keep your teeth where they need to be.
How Do You Prevent These Diseases?
The easy answer is that you should brush and floss up to three times a day. That significantly lowers your chances of plaque turning into tartar, which will cause gum disease. Other risk factors are things like smoking (huge risk factor for gum disease), certain medications, genetics, and diabetes. Your best bet no matter what is to constantly stay on top of your dental hygiene. Again, brush your teeth and floss at least twice a day, and brush and floss a third time if at all possible. That’s the best thing that you can do to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
How Do You Become a Periodontist?
It’s more than just a specialty. In order to become a periodontist, you have to already have a four year college degree (usually in math, chemistry, physics, or biology), go to four years of dental school, and then spend three years in residency as a periodontist specialist. After that, you have to pass an exam administered by the American Board of Periodontology. This is a ton of school for anyone, but the diseases and structures that you have to learn to be a successful periodontist are extremely complex, and periodontists need to be able to perform surgeries that they need to practice.