While most people understand the role of a dentist, not everyone knows there are several different dental specialties. For example, you may be referred to an endodontist for a root canal but a periodontist for gum disease treatment.
Our West Omaha dentists explain the differences between periodontists vs endodontists here.
The Difference Between Periodontists and Endodontists
Education and Training
Both periodontists and endodontists pursue three or more years of postgraduate training after dental school. That said, their training differs significantly. For instance, periodontists learn how to treat conditions that affect the gums, while endodontists study the roots of teeth.
Conditions They Treat
Endodontics focuses on the inside of the teeth. So, if you’re referred to an endodontist, it’s likely because you're experiencing severe tooth pain. Your dentist may also send you their way if you have signs of tooth decay or your teeth have complex anatomy.
Periodontists treat the gums and surrounding bone. They diagnose and treat periodontal disease, which is an infection of your mouth’s soft tissues. So, if your gums are inflamed or aren’t a fan of their appearance, have your dentist refer you to a periodontist.
Some periodontists, like our West Omaha dentists, also place dental implants.
Both periodontists and endodontists perform surgical and non-surgical procedures, but the purpose of treatment differs.
Most dentists can treat periodontal disease, though if you require surgery or tooth extraction, you may need to see a periodontist. In general, treatment depends on the severity of the gum disease. For instance, if you have early gingivitis, your dentist can just deep clean your teeth.
Here’s a quick rundown of your periodontal treatment options:
Scaling and root planing - Once the periodontist performs a deep cleaning, they may scale below the gum line to remove tartar and plaque. Root planing involves smoothing the tooth root so it won’t continue to collect bacteria.
Laser therapy - The periodontist uses laser therapy to remove infected gum tissue. Then, they eliminate any build-up around or below the gum line.
Additional treatment is typically unnecessary after scaling and root planing or laser therapy.
Gum graft surgery - Gum recession can result in exposed tooth roots. Grafting surgery covers the exposed root, which helps prevent additional bone loss.
Reconstructive surgery - Periodontal disease can destroy the bone supporting your teeth. Reconstructive surgery is performed to repair damage done to the mouth or jaw, typically before dental implants are placed.
Crown lengthening - The periodontist reshapes excess gum and bone tissue to reveal more of the natural tooth. This can be performed on one or multiple teeth.
Pocket reduction surgery - Gum disease creates deep pockets around the teeth that lead to tissue and bone loss. With pocket reduction surgery, the periodontist removes any bacteria trapped between your teeth and gums.
If you couldn’t already tell, endodontists specialize in root canals. However, that’s not all they perform. Three of the most common endodontic procedures include:
Root canal - A root canal is necessary when the innermost layer of the tooth, the pulp, becomes infected. For most, root canal therapy is the result of deep cavities or dental injury.
Apicoectomy (surgical endodontics) - If a root canal doesn’t solve the issue, your endodontist may recommend an apicoectomy or root-end resection. This dental procedure includes removing infected gum tissue at the end of the root of your tooth, while the top remains in place.
Dental implants - If saving a tooth isn’t in the cards, dental implants are a surgically-implanted replacement option. The endodontist will apply dental implants in stages.
Contact Our Dentists in West Omaha
Whether you have pain in your mouth or need gum disease treatment, schedule an appointment with us today! We can help refer you to a dental specialist if needed, though we treat most patients at our West Omaha dental office.