What is periodontics?

Periodontics, or periodontology, is the specialty of dentistry which encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes. A dentist who specializes in this is called a periodontist.

Periodontics is the treatment of gum disease (periodontitis) as well as other conditions that impact the gum and bones surrounding the teeth. This may include gum recession and oral pathology such as gingival tumors. Many periodontists also help patients replace teeth lost due to periodontal disease by placing dental implants.

Periodontics is the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal (gum) disease, and the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also experts in the treatment of inflammation inside the mouth. Periodontists receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.
Steven Bradway

All dentists graduate from dental school trained to practice general dentistry. In other words, the dentist can treat dental diseases and conditions that he or she feels qualified to treat. Patients present to dentists with a spectrum of conditions and diseases, some less common or more complex than others. The profession of Dentistry has historically responded by developing specialty programs to train dentist to meet the needs of these patients; Periodontics is one of the dental specialties.

In the early twentieth century Periodontics began as a specialty that treated periodontitis or gum disease. At the time gum disease was the leading cause of tooth loss. A group of dentists, basic scientists and physicians set out to find the cause of the disease and develop effective ways of stopping tooth loss. At the time surgical correction of the anatomical defects in the bone and gum tissue associated with the disease was found to improve the patient’s condition. These surgical techniques were not taught in general dental training programs so the specialty program of Periodontics was founded to provide further training for dentists who wanted to treat these diseases effectively. Treating periodontitis is still the foundation of our specialty, but most Periodontists have expanded their surgical skills to perform reconstructive surgery for bone regeneration and implant placement.

As part of this program, Periodontists are trained to conduct clinical and/or basic science research. We are expected to contribute to the profession of dentistry by searching out new knowledge in the basic and material sciences that can be applied to produce better longer lasting treatment results; the intention is that the specialties drive the evolution of the profession. Periodontics has  been one of the leadings contributors  to the understanding of 1) the cellular and molecular events that lead to bone loss around teeth, 2) how inflammation affects bone metabolism and general health, 3) in developing techniques to regenerate native bone, and 4) in producing life time implant results. These efforts have dramatically increased tooth retention and the confidence in life time tooth replacement. 

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