Do I need to see a periodontist?

In short, the answer is yes. Even if you regularly see a general dentist or hygienist and practice good oral hygiene, you may still need to visit a periodontist. While research is continually advancing in the areas of periodontal health, studies consistently indicate a relationship between your periodontal and oral health with your overall health and wellbeing. 

Many people may not understand the difference between a general dentist and a periodontist, so let’s talk about that for a minute. What is the difference between a general dentist and a periodontist?

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, a periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. Periodontics is recognized as one specialized area of dentistry, so to become a periodontist or any other dental specialist, a dentist must obtain additional training and education beyond dental school.

Meaning that all periodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are periodontists. And this is why your general dentist or a hygienist may recommend a consultation with a periodontist if they find signs of periodontal disease through the course of a checkup or other dental care appointment. However, if you have neglected your regular dental visits and cleanings in recent months or years, then you should pay attention to your oral health to see if you are experiencing any signs of gum disease. If you notice any of the common signs of periodontitis, you can decide to see a periodontist even without a referral.

So what are the signs of gum disease? And when do you know that you should visit a periodontist? If you experience any of the following symptoms, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with Dallas periodontist, Dr. Charles Orth, without delay:

  • Bleeding while brushing or eating normal foods.

    Why is this a symptom you should be concerned about? Because unexplained bleeding while performing regular cleaning or consuming food is actually the most common sign of a periodontal infection.

Signs that you should visit a periodontist

  • Bad breath.

    Why should I be concerned about bad breath? Because ongoing halitosis (bad breath), which continues despite rigorous oral cleaning, can point to periodontitis, gingivitis or the beginnings of a gum infection. Essentially its a sign that bacteria is living in your mouth, which is the cause of inflammation, gum disease and eventually tooth loss, if not treated properly.

  • Loose teeth and gum recession.

    If you notice that your teeth seem to appear elongated or that your gums are receding at all, then you should schedule an appointment with a periodontist. Longer-looking and loose-feeling teeth can indicate recession of the gums and/or bone loss as a result of periodontal disease.

  • Related health concerns.

    Our whole body is connected and health concerns in one area indicate a reason to evaluate other important areas of our health, especially when we’re talking about infections and inflammation. Did you know: patients with heart disease, diabetes, osteopenia or osteoporosis are often diagnosed with correlating periodontal infections. It is important to understand that the bacterial infection can spread through the blood stream, affecting other areas of the body. So if you are suffering from other health concerns, such as these mentioned, you should be sure to include periodontal visits and maintenance as a part of your ongoing healthcare regimen. For more information about the Mouth-Body connection and the relationship between periodontal health and other concerns, read here.

So do you need to see a periodontist? If you would like to enjoy a lifetime of oral health, then yes. Remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems and deserves excellence in care. Your body and your smile will thank you!


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