Gum Disease: Do You Need a Periodontist?

Gum Disease: Do You Need a Periodontist?

Whether you’ve had bad breath that just won’t let up or you’ve noticed your gums are receding, you may be researching gum disease. Almost half of all Americans suffer gum disease, or periodontal disease. There are many options for treatment. While you may believe you should visit your general or family dentist, a periodontist offers more options because they specialize in gums and their diseases.

What is it and what causes it?

Gum disease is the inflammation of the gums. This inflammation can lead to the deterioration of soft tissue that supports the teeth. Our mouths host a lot of bacteria, and when that bacteria builds up, it forms plaque on the teeth. If you do not brush and floss regularly, the plaque can build up to tartar, a harder substance that a dentist has to remove. Not having your teeth cleaned regularly can cause tartar and plaque to build up, which causes the gums to recede and weaken.
If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to set up an appointment with a dentist or periodontist:
  • Bad breath (in extreme cases, where brushing, drinking water, etc., doesn’t help)
  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Swollen, tender or bleeding gums
  • Pain when chewing
  • Receding gums or teeth appearing longer

Why go to a periodontist?

Dentists have gone to medical school to be able to recognize and treat issues regarding your teeth. Periodontists, similarly, have gone to medical school to concentrate on periodontal (gum) diseases and related issues. They attend school for three additional years to acquire more information about gum treatment.
They specialize in numerous treatments, such as root planing, and offer cosmetic services and dental implants. They will use a tool, called a probe, between your teeth and gums to determine how healthy your gums are. Sometimes a periodontist will use X-rays to determine any issues below the surface of the gums.
You can go to a periodontist of your own accord, or your dentist can refer you to one. Gum disease is often coupled with age, so many adults age 40 and older have a set periodontist in addition to their dentist. Many dental practices have a dentist on staff who is also a periodontist.

What are the treatments for gum disease?

Your periodontist will evaluate your needs, medical history and current medical situation before any procedure. There are several options they will present to you, depending on your situation.


  • Antimicrobial mouth rinse. Periodontists often prescribe this rinse containing chlorhexidine which controls bacteria. You will use it to treat gingivitis or after surgery and use it like any other mouthwash.
  • Antibiotic gel. Similar to the rinse, the gel controls bacteria. You will often use this when periodontists notice oversized pockets, or after scaling and root planing.
  • Oral antibiotics. These are standard tablets you will take for short-term infections.
  • Antiseptic chip. Gelatin filled with medicine controls periodontal pockets. After planing, the periodontist places it in the pocket to slowly release medicine over time.
  • Microspheres. Like the chip, these tiny orbs contain a different antibiotic (minocycline) that the orbs release over time.
  • Enzyme suppressant. For those with an abundance of enzymes which break down gum tissue. Suppressants are in tablet form.


As previously mentioned, they will likely perform scaling and planing as a beginning procedure to evaluate the severity of the gum disease. For the procedure, a dentist will put you under a local anesthetic and scrape plaque away from above and below the gum line. Next, the dentist will smooth out rough spots, which removes bacteria while allowing a smooth, clean surface for gums to reattach.
Periodontists may feel surgery is the best form of treatment dependent on how advanced your gum disease is. Flap surgery, for example, is typically performed if inflammation occurs even after the medications and cleaning.
In flap surgery, the periodontist lifts the gums and removes tartar that has gotten below the visible gum line. Then, they will suture the gums back so that they wrap naturally around the tooth. This procedure causes the gums to fit more tightly, which results in teeth looking longer. Periodontists also perform bone or tissue grafts in addition to flap surgery to regenerate any tissue or bone loss.

Is a periodontist right for me?

Periodontists are right for everyone who want quality treatment for not only their teeth but also their gums. They can offer a multitude of treatment options that are ideal for your unique situation. Periodontists have expanded their education beyond dentistry school, so issues regarding gum disease are best handled by them. If you notice any of the symptoms above, be sure to make an appointment with a dentist today to evaluate your needs.

Comments are closed.

4400 N Federal Hwy

#176 Boca Raton, FL 33431


Call Office

Office Hours

Mon - Fri


24/7 Emergency
Call Now ButtonCall Office