What is a Periodontist?
Periodontist vs. General Dentist
General Dentistry

All dentists complete a formal 4 year dental school education where they are taught the basics about the health and care of teeth, gums, supporting bone structures, and the jaw. Although requirements vary for each dental school, most require a bachelor’s degree. Typical basic coursework includes anatomy, the study of oral health and disease, radiology, local anesthesia, and tooth related restoration procedures. Most general dentists will use local anesthesia and perform procedures such as cleanings/teach routine oral care, placement of sealants, removal of decay, filling of cavities, complete root canals, place tooth veneers or caps “crowns”, remove broken teeth, and treat jaw pain.

What is a Periodontist Specialist?

Periodontists are general dentists who have completed an additional 3 years of formal school based residency training beyond dental school. Periodontics is one of several accredited specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. The culmination of this training for many but not all periodontists is certification by the American Board of Periodontology in the disciplines of Periodontics and Dental Implants. This process consists of written and oral examination as well as routine re-certification examinations.

Periodontists are specialists in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of periodontal disease and oral medicine, which includes gum inflammation, infections of the jawbone as well as cosmetic periodontal surgery. They also specialize in placement of dental implants to replace single, multiple or all teeth associated with the removal of infected/broken teeth and repair defects of the gum and jawbone.


A dentist or periodontist might be a DDS (doctor of dental surgery) or a DMD (doctor of dental medicine). Titles are the prerogative of each dental school. Dr. Bonacci attended Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, which offers a DMD degree built on medical education and comprehensive research based dentistry.


Untreated periodontal disease can affect your overall health and is associated with many general medical diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular, autoimmune, respiratory, as well as smoking and cancer. Although a general dentist can manage mild periodontal disease, those patients with moderate or severe gum disease or who have existing general medical disease should be managed by a periodontist specialist.

Other Considerations

Untreated periodontal disease can affect your overall health and is now considered one of the chronic diseases related to aging. Although a general dentist can manage mild peritoneal disease, complex or severe cases should be managed by a periodontist.

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