First, a college education is required with an emphasis on the basic sciences. This usually takes four years, and most dental school applicants have a Bachelor’s Degree with some having more advanced degrees. Secondly, one must become a dentist by attaining a Doctorate degree from a school of dentistry, usually another four year process. At this point, one is eligible to apply to post-graduate training in Periodontics. However, first many future Periodontists either practice General Dentistry for awhile, become dental officers in the military, or attend a one year hospital residency program prior to their Periodontal training. Currently, all ADA accredited specialty training programs in Periodontics require a full-time, 36 month course of study. Therefore, the minimum training time after high school usually takes 11 years.
How do I know if a dentist is trained to provide periodontal treatment?
All dental schools today provide basic periodontal education to graduating dentists. However, this training varies from school to school, and some dentists have taken continuing education courses on their own. Periodontists have completed two to three years of full-time advanced training. In New Jersey, those with this advanced training are granted a specialty license number that is listed in the phone book. These specialists are allowed to announce themselves as “Practice Limited To Periodontics” or “Specializing in Periodontics”.
Are there dentists who specialize in dental implants?
There is no specialty of Dental Implants recognized by either the American Dental Association or the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry. The Specialty of Periodontics includes education and clinical training in the surgical placement of dental implants and the techniques required to maintain them in health. Because Periodontists are surgical specialists who routinely perform complex surgical procedures, and are also well versed in providing preventive maintenance, they are ideally suited to provide dental implant therapy. This care is critical to protect your oral health investment.
My periodontal condition is not severe yet. When should I see a Periodontist?
The earlier and more thoroughly periodontal disease can be treated, the less expensive and more predictable the outcome will be. Periodontists are trained to thoroughly evaluate your individual condition and can discuss a variety of treatment options, both non-surgical and surgical. You may want to see a Periodontist as early as possible in order to minimize the need for more expensive and complex treatment later.
Why is it that although I brush my teeth twice a day and see my dentist regularly, I still developed periodontal disease, yet my friend who rarely sees the dentist has no periodontal problems?
Each individual has a unique genetic predisposition to either be susceptible to or resistant to periodontal disease. Just as some people you know seem to always get sore throats or the Flu while others never do, some of us are genetically more likely to develop periodontal disease than others. Also, systemic factors such as diabetes, stress, pregnancy, and certain medications can also reduce one’s resistance to periodontal disease. Since periodontal diseases are infections caused by bacteria, anything that weakens one’s resistance can increase the risk of getting, and severity of, periodontal disease. Keep in mind that periodontal disease is rarely painful, often unnoticed by the affected individual until the later stages, and more common with age. Maybe your friend should have a comprehensive periodontal examination to assess their present health status.