We’ve already mentioned a few reasons why you might be referred to a periodontist by your dentist—swollen or bleeding gums, receding gums, sensitive or loose teeth—but periodontists are highly trained to treat a variety of mouth, teeth, gum and jaw conditions. So, when should you see one? The first and most common reason is periodontal disease. Periodontal Disease A periodontist’s primary job is to treat, diagnose and prevent periodontal disease. But each case of periodontal disease is not created equal. This is why in 2006 the American Academy of Periodontology released a report that divided patients into three different levels, depending on their urgency for periodontal care. Level 3 Patients These are patients who should be treated by a periodontist. They have chronic or severe periodontitis, an abscess, root exposure, or peri-implant disease—all of which require a periodontists’ expertise and care. Level 2 Patients These are patients who have periodontitis along with the following risk factors and would, therefore, benefit from co-treatment from their dentist and periodontist: · They are younger than 35 years old. · They have ongoing inflammation in the gums. · They’ve lost teeth. · They have bone defects or bone loss. · They have exposed root surfaces. Level 1 Patients These are patients who have periodontal inflammation along with other preexisting health conditions that could complicate their periodontitis, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy, cancer therapy, cardiovascular surgery, respiratory disease, joint replacement or organ transplant surgery. The second most common reason to visit the periodontist is for smile correction. Smile Correction In addition to being the experts in periodontal disease, periodontists are also known as the “plastic surgeons of dentistry.” This is because they have special training in smile-correcting surgeries. If you are unhappy with your smile because of the size of your teeth or your gums, make an appointment with your local periodontists. They can help with the following common smile complaints: A gummy smile Crown lengthening surgery can improve the look of the teeth by removing excess gum tissue. This will elongate your teeth and improve the overall look of your smile. An uneven gum line The same crown lengthening procedure can be used to correct an uneven gum line. If you feel like some of your teeth are a normal size, while others aren’t, this could provide the symmetry you’re looking for. Exposed roots Gum recession can cause your teeth to have exposed roots, making them appear too long and aging your smile. Periodontists can correct this with gum grafting or another root coverage procedure, restoring your gums, teeth and smile. Indentions in the gums or jaw Tooth loss caused by periodontal disease can cause indentions in the jaw and gums, giving your mouth an unnatural look. A periodontist can correct this with a procedure called ridge augmentation, where they fill in the indention, creating a natural jawline.