The definition of a periodontist is a specialized dentist who applies a specialized knowledge of the prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of periodontal disease. The periodontist also works quite extensively in the area of dental implants in patients who are candidates for that procedure.
One of the major causes of ill health, not only in the area of dental health, but in overall health as well, is inflamed gums and jaw areas, where the infection can go beyond the mouth area and incorporate itself into the general system of the individual, potentially causing heart conditions, cancer, and brain problems.
A periodontist receives very extensive training in these particular areas and is required to experience three additional years of training beyond dental school.
Periodontists are well trained in all of the latest procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of all periodontal disease, as well as being well versed in procedures for the performance of cosmetic periodontal work.
Periodontists will often treat very problematic diseases of the gum and jaw, such as people with severe gum disease who also might have a very complex medical history. Some of the skills that are used to treat such cases include root planing and scaling, where the infected surface of the tooth is thorough cleaned, and root surface surface debridement where damaged tissue is removed. Periodontists are very skilled surgeons where they will use a variety of surgical techniques to help their patients recover from tooth and gum infections.
Patients should see a periodontist if the periodontal disease is reaching a stage where it's serious enough to the point that just routine care is not going to work well. This may be caused by neglect on the part of the patient, aging that causes the gums to shrink, injury, and a host of other reasons. The process usually works well with a partnership of treatment between the dentist and the periodontist.