What Does A Periodontist Do?

A periodontal specialist or periodontist is like a dentist but with a specific specialization. Since periodontology isn’t a common word, many people are unaware of their existence. Simply put, a periodontist is specialized in making your gums healthy.  

Periodontology also cover parts of your mouth that you often forget about, for instance, the alveolar process, which is a part of your jawbone. You can lose your teeth if this jaw part has issues, especially for women.

Periodontology also covers the PDL or periodontal ligament, which supports the growth of your teeth. If the PDL is unhealthy, expect that your tooth will not grow properly.

Dentists don’t generally cover these areas, but periodontists do. They have specialized training so that they can take immediate action when there’s a problem with your gums and other tooth issues. That’s why they are more involved in preventive measures as untreated gum damage may lead to the removal of a part of your jawline.

To help you understand more about periodontists, here’s a list of what they are capable of doing:


  1. Teeth Cleaning

As simple as it may sound, cleaning your teeth is an essential preventative measure that a periodontist performs to keep your gums and teeth healthy. Although it may sound like a regular tooth cleaning, it’s far more than that. To learn more about preventative cleaning and periodontal maintenance, visit Washingtonperio.com.

Periodontists conduct periodontal prophylaxis or teeth cleaning to prevent gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. When bacteria colonize the upper or lower gum line, gingivitis and periodontal disease occur. The effect can get worse as a chronic inflammatory response in the body caused by the bacteria’s irritation and serious inflammation.

If there are more bacteria housed in the pockets between the teeth and gums, other body parts may get infected via the bloodstream. That’s why it’s vital to let a periodontal specialist perform teeth cleaning or a periodontal prophylaxis.

Moreover, the periodontist can help you get the following benefits from a prophylaxis:

  • Since a periodontist performs a thorough examination through prophylaxis, they can spot signs of kidney problems and diabetes, evaluate the risk of periodontitis, or screen oral cancer. With this, your periodontist will recommend a home care regimen or treatment for any spotted disease.
  • With prophylaxis, your periodontist can alleviate irritation and improve your breath by removing bacteria, calculus, and plaque. This can help prevent halitosis or bad breath which may be due to periodontal problems, gum infection, or rotting particles on the gum line.
  • A periodontist can even give back your glorious smile as prophylaxis can remove unsightly yellow stains on your teeth.
  • The process of prophylaxis uses specialized dental equipment that the periodontist utilizes to spot plaque and tartar buildup. With such, the periodontist can remove deposits, bacteria, and debris from gum pockets that ordinary flossing and brushing techniques can’t remove. If left untreated, periodontal problems may arise from buildup of plaque and tartar.

You should also note that a periodontal prophylaxis treatment isn’t a one-time treatment. It consists of several stages, which a periodontist should perform twice a year. A periodontist will perform the following two-part procedure in periodontal prophylaxis:

  • Supragingival Cleaning – Using scaling tools, the periodontist will thoroughly clean and get rid of calculus and plaque above your gum line.
  • X-ray And Examination – The periodontist can identify gum and bone recession via X-rays to know what areas require future attention.


  1. Maintain Dental Health

If you already have a periodontal or gum disease, a special cleaning that involves root planing and scaling is what you need. This is also known as periodontal maintenance and happens after each cleaning.

In short, a periodontist only performs periodontal maintenance on people with previous cases of periodontitis. Although it requires cleaning like prophylaxis, periodontal maintenance goes deeper, cleaning below the gum line. By doing this, the periodontist prevents the plaque below the gum line from irritating and growing on the gums. Thus, periodontal maintenance involves cleaning both above and below the gum line so that there isn’t any buildup of bacteria and plaque.

Although periodontitis has no permanent cure, periodontal maintenance can help slow down the progress of the disease. By doing so, your periodontist can prevent the negative effects of periodontal disease like a tooth, tissue, bone loss, and other harmful effects to your body.

Aside from persons with previous periodontitis, individuals who had root planing, periodontal surgery, exposed roots, bleeding gums, pockets deeper than 4mm, and bone loss should have periodontal maintenance. Thus, regular cleaning or prophylaxis may not be that effective for such people.

During periodontal maintenance, expect that your periodontist won’t focus on cleaning your tooth’s crown only. First, your periodontist will have to remove tartar and plaque from above to below your gum line using periodontal scaling. To prevent future plaque buildup, your periodontist will make sure that no rough areas aren’t smoothed out during the scaling process. Lastly, your periodontist will treat inflamed pockets after assessment and measurement of the pocket depths.

As its name implies, you’ll need to have the periodontal maintenance process indefinitely to prevent the progression of the disease. Usually, your periodontist will require you to undergo the process every three months. It’s because it takes that long for the bacteria to develop without becoming pathogenic. After three months, the bacteria will progress and will become pathogenic. Thus, periodontal maintenance is part of regulating any periodontal disease.


  1. Treat Gum Disease

As mentioned, gum or periodontal disease can be harmful. The bacterial infection may be caused when you don’t regularly brush and floss your teeth, allowing tartar and plaque buildup. As for the major stages of this disease, periodontal disease can be periodontitis or gingivitis.

In gingivitis, only your gums are affected, which makes it a mild form of gum disease. When you leave your gingivitis untreated, it becomes periodontitis. In this stage, you can incur serious health problems and tooth loss. It’s because the bacteria can destroy the membrane and bone that support your teeth by penetrating the tissue’s deeper pockets.

With gum problems, some people don’t experience any symptom, but you can be prone to gum disease due to the following:

  • Pregnancy
  • Genetics
  • Systemic disease
  • Tobacco and alcohol use
  • Taking prescription drugs for calcium channel blocker, an anti-epilepsy drug, oral contraceptives, cancer therapy drugs, and steroids.

Although some gum disease comes without experiencing any pain, you should consult a periodontist if you experience the following:

  • Your fillings have become defective
  • Unfitting partial dentures or bridges unlike before
  • Different fitting of teeth when you bite
  • Separating or loose teeth
  • Gums look longer as they’re pulling away from teeth
  • Bleeding gums when biting into hard foods, using floss, or brushing teeth
  • Swelling, tenderness, puffiness, and recurring redness
  • Incessant metal taste or bad breath
  • Non-improving irritation or soreness in your mouth or pus between teeth and gums

If you’re feeling such signs and symptoms, you may need to go for a periodontist’s consultation. After a periodontist evaluates your overall health and the stage of your gum disease, they may recommend you to go for one or any of the following treatments:

  • Drug Treatment – Your periodontist may prescribe you antibiotic treatments to stop the destruction of your tooth’s bone attachment. Or you can even use the antibiotic treatment to remove the bacteria causing gum disease temporarily. The drug medications may come in the form of a gelatin-filled chip or as a mouth rinse.
  • Toothpaste – Your periodontist may even advise you to use antibacterial toothpaste that reduces gingivitis and plaque as it contains antibiotic components.
  • Scaling And Root Planing – If you have hardened plaque, also known as tartar, under your gums, then your periodontist may require you scaling and root planing. During this treatment, the periodontist will clean your gums’ surface and remove bacteria by smoothing the rough spots so that your gums can reattach to your teeth. Planing happens by smoothing the rough spots on your tooth and scaling by scraping away tartar and plaque below the gum line.
  • Professional Dental Cleaning – As mentioned in the first section of this article, professional dental cleaning or prophylaxis is taken as a preventative measure. Your periodontist may advise you to have it twice a year so that you can stop the development of gum disease.
  • Surgical Treatment – Depending on the gravity of your gum disease, you may need surgery, which will be discussed below.


  1. Perform Surgeries

If your gum disease requires a higher form of treatment, you may need to undergo surgery. Usually, this surgery happens if you have a periodontal disease or advanced or severe disease around your tissues and gums that support your teeth. Before the surgery, your periodontist will require you to prepare a couple of weeks in advance.

You may have to discontinue taking blood thinners, pain relievers, aspirin, and other medications. Your periodontist may even require you to stop drinking alcohol or smoking a day before the surgery. Then, you’ll be taking an antibiotic to lessen your risk of developing an infection.

Depending on the gravity of your gum disease, you may undergo one or any of the following surgeries depending on your periodontist’s recommendation:

  • Bone Grafting – To promote natural bone regrowth and help prevent tooth loss, your periodontist may replace the bone that surrounds your tooth root. Your periodontist will replace the bone with a graft, which comes from a donated bone, synthetic bone, or small parts of your own bone.
  • Flap Surgery – If there are tartar and bacteria under your gums, your periodontist will perform flap surgery. In this surgery, they will lift a section of your gum tissue to remove the bacteria and tartar after making small cuts in your gum. Don’t worry about this as your periodontist will suture back your gums, making the tissue firmly fit around your teeth. This surgery will make cleaning your gums and teeth easier.
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration – Your periodontist will perform a guided tissue regeneration to stimulate your gum tissue and bone growth. This is good when the bone that supports your teeth is destroyed. During the surgery, your periodontist will insert a small piece of mesh-like fabric in between the gum tissue and bone. By doing this, the connective tissue and bone will regrow to better support your teeth.
  • Soft Tissue Grafts — The periodontist will use donor tissue or tissue from the roof of your mouth then attach it on sections with missing or sparse tissue. This way, the grafts can help when your gums are receding.
  • Tissue-Stimulating Proteins – Another way is when your periodontist applies a special gel to one of your diseased tooth roots. With such, it’ll help stimulate the healthy growth of tissue and bone as the gel has similar proteins you can find in developing tooth enamel.


  1. Perform Cosmetic Procedures

Additionally, a periodontist can help improve your smile as they are also known as the plastic surgeons of dentistry. Not only can periodontists help improve your dental health or prevent further development of gum disease, but they can also enhance the aesthetics of your smile. So, go to a periodontist if you want to correct your smile because they may be able to do the following based on your diagnosis:

  • Crown Lengthening – If you have excess gum tissue that prevents your tooth’s crown from being exposed, your periodontist may perform crown lengthening. By doing this, your periodontist will remove excess gum tissue or uneven gum lines that make your teeth appear too short when you smile. This procedure will expose more of your natural tooth as it can reshape bone tissues and excess gums on the entire teeth or one tooth.
  • Pocket-Depth Reduction – This type of surgery will tighten the tooth’s gum tissue as your periodontist will clear the pockets of any infection and bacteria. When untreated, deep pockets may further damage your bone and gum tissue as more space between the tooth and gum provides an additional place for bacteria. As a result, the gum tissue and bone won’t snugly fit around your teeth.
  • Ridge Augmentation – After a tooth extraction, irregularities in your jaw and gums may occur. Thus, your periodontist will prevent the collapse of your jawbone with ridge augmentation. After this, it’ll allow a dental implant so that you can have a complete set of teeth to show off when you smile.
  • Dental Implants – To complete your teeth, a periodontist will implant a properly sized dental implant on a damaged or missing tooth. That way, it can function, feel, and look like your natural teeth.



These are only some of the important things a periodontist can do for you. From professional cleaning or prophylaxis, a periodontist can help prevent gum disease. This is a vital measure so that you can prevent severe gum infection. If you already have gum disease, your periodontist may also help combat it through periodontal maintenance, which is a higher level of cleaning. A periodontist can even help treat your gum disease by administering drugs, performing non-surgical and surgical treatment. With surgeries, you may undergo a specific type so that you won’t have to lose or endanger your overall health because of severe gum infection. Lastly, your periodontist can even help you create the perfect smile through cosmetic surgery.



HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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Written by HealthStatus
Medical Writer & Editor

HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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