A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gum disease. Periodontists are also involved in performing cosmetic dental procedures.
Although periodontology has been practiced to varying degrees throughout human history, an official school for the dentistry specialty was not established until 1914 by Drs. Gillette Hayden and Grace Roger Spalding. The school was first named the American Academy of Oral Prophylaxis and Peridontology, but in 1919 it was changed to the American Academy of Periodontology, as it is known today.
Periodontists diagnose and treat gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease. In some cases when disease has progressed too far and the tooth cannot be saved through thorough cleanings or improved oral hygiene, a periodontist puts in dental implants.
In addition to four years of dental school, periodontists must complete three years of specialized training in the field.
The word periodontist originates from the Greek words peri for “surrounding” and odonos for “teeth.”
Most dentists can refer patients to a periodontist, but no referral is needed to get an appointment.