Periodontics is the study of supporting structures of teeth, as well as diseases and conditions that affect them. It comes from two Greek words, peri meaning “around” and odont meaning “tooth.” The focus is solely on the inflammatory disease that destroys the gums and other supporting structures around the teeth.
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease and are also trained to place, maintain, and repair dental implants. They went through three additional years of education after dental school. The periodontist first examines the gums and checks to see if there is any gum line recession, evaluates how the teeth fit together when biting, and checks the teeth to see if any are loose. He will also take a probe and place it between the teeth and gums to determine the depth of those spaces, known as periodontal pockets; this helps him assess the health of the gums. Many times, X-rays are taken to determine the health of the bone below the gum line.
Periodontists treat cases ranging from mild gingivitis to more severe periodontitis. They offer a variety of treatments, such as scaling and root planing (in which the infected surface of the root is cleaned), root surface debridement (in which damaged tissue is removed), and regenerative procedures (in which damaged tooth structures are replaced). When necessary, periodontists can also perform surgical procedures for patients with severe gum disease.