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The field of dentistry has become more diverse and specialized in the last half-century. There are today eight recognized streams of dentistry with post-graduate specialization, and at least two or three knocking on the doors for such a status.

A Periodontist is a dental specialist who looks after your gums and other supporting structures of the teeth. Teeth are embedded in a bony socket in the upper and lower jaw bones, known as the maxilla and mandible. The roots of the teeth, which are embedded in the bone, are coated with a substance known as the cementum. This cementum unites the teeth to the bone with the help of a shock-absorbing ligament known as the periodontal ligament.

The cementum, the periodontal ligament, the bone housing the teeth, and the gums covering the teeth are collectively known as the periodontal complex. A Periodontist looks after and treats diseases affecting these structures. A disease of these structures is known as periodontal disease, which can affect individuals in varying forms. It is a very slowly progressive disease and is caused by the colonization of bacteria in and around the junction of the gums and teeth.

This accumulation of bacteria and its byproducts is known as PLAQUE. When this plaque accumulates beyond a certain critical level, it starts causing the destruction of the periodontal structures. If left unhindered, the disease progresses, and the tooth becomes loose and ultimately falls off.

The periodontist’s job is to prevent and treat such problems if the disease is already established. A significant component of this disease is preventable if proper precautions are taken and good oral hygiene is maintained. It is important to note that the more the amount of PLAQUE in an individual’s mouth, the more the extent of the disease. The disease severity for each individual is variable; hence, it is challenging to quantify the critical level of plaque that will cause the disease.

It is best to keep the mouth as clean as possible. It is very advisable to visit your family dentist at least once a year for a check-up and, if necessary, get a scaling (professional cleaning of your teeth) done. If your dentist notices that you have an advanced level of gum disease (as it is colloquially known), you may need to seek a Periodontist’s services.

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