What Is a Periodontist and How to Become One
Table of Contents
What Is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in treating periodontal disease, gum disease, and gingivitis. Periodontists are also experts in oral inflammation and dental implants. As a periodontist, you typically handle more serious dental issues and are an expert at helping patients with complex dental histories. Your responsibilities are to diagnose and treat severe gum problems and perform dental surgery. Other duties include the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants. In this role, you perform many dental implant consultations and take X-rays as necessary.
How Do I Become a Periodontist?
It takes several years to become a periodontist. As an aspiring periodontist, you must first get an undergraduate degree, ideally in a science-related field like biology or chemistry. While in college, you should take the Dental Admissions Test or DAT, a required part of your dental school application. After earning a bachelor’s degree, you must attend dental school, where you spend four years learning all aspects of dentistry through lectures and clinical labs. You must then complete a periodontics residency, which usually lasts three years. Finally, you must pass a written and oral exam given by the American Board of Periodontology.
What Are the Differences Between a Dentist, a Periodontist, and an Endodontist?
A dentist can generally treat gum disease by giving routine cleanings, taking X-rays, and prescribing medication. However, periodontists and endodontists are both specialized dentists who diagnose and treat advanced cases of gum disease and damaged or infected teeth. As a periodontist, you focus on the gums and perform oral surgery and deep cleanings. A common part of a periodontist’s job is performing gum grafts, where you take tissue from the roof of the mouth and attach it to the gums. An endodontist, on the other hand, specializes in the interior tooth and dental pulp. As an endodontist, you work on severely infected teeth and may perform particularly difficult root canals or remove damaged tooth roots. Dentists, periodontists, and endodontists perform very different tasks, but all work to improve a patient’s oral health.