Taking care of your oral health does more than give you a nice smile. A healthy mouth allows you to properly speak, chew, swallow, and make facial expressions. 

It also helps prevent potentially avoidable infections and illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and more. Knowing which provider to visit and when to see them will keep your oral hygiene on track.

Read on to learn whether you need to see a general dentist or a periodontist.

General Dentist

A general dentist serves your primary dental needs. They manage oral care, diagnose issues, and treat certain problems.

You should see the same general dentist regularly so that they can keep a good record f your overall oral health. Your general dentist will send you to other providers when they cannot take care of the problem in their office.

What Will They Do?

This provider brings you into the office for general cleaning and checkups. They remove plaque buildup from your teeth to help prevent cavities and gum disease. They may also do non-invasive cosmetic procedures like tooth whitening.

Your dentist will examine your teeth carefully for breakage, discoloration, and decay. They will also check your gums for signs of gingivitis. 

At your checkup, they will also perform an x-ray. This allows them to check for hidden infections or bone issues.

If you need a filling or root canal, they schedule a time for you to come back. For bite problems, surgeries, and gum disease, they will send you to a specialist.

How Often Should You Visit The Dentist?

A general dentist should clean and examine your teeth every six months. Do not think that you can skip just because your mouth appears healthy.

These visits ensure that your oral hygiene remains good. Thorough cleaning and plaque removal prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Their exam catches problems as they begin, which makes them easily treatable.


General dentistry costs less than seeing a specialist for advanced oral health problems. A dental insurance plan will cover your regular checkups and necessary procedures.

If you choose cosmetic procedures, like whitening your teeth, you will pay out of pocket. But you will not need as much dental work if you visit the dentist as recommended.


A periodontist focuses on preventing and treating gum disease. Gums refer to the soft tissue lining your mouth that is bound to the underlying bone.

Your dentist will send you to a periodontist when they detect something wrong with your gums. You do not always need a referral and can opt to see this type of specialist on your own as well.

When To See A Periodontist

Pay attention to issues that signal the need for a periodontist. Set up an appointment if you notice the following symptoms.

Bad breath that does not go away from brushing your teeth and using mouthwash can indicate gum disease. Infection and decay both smell bad. It may smell like rotten eggs or pungent onions.

You should not see pink when brushing or flossing. Ongoing bleeding from the gums calls for a visit to the periodontist. 

Your gums should appear pink and firm, and they should not cause any discomfort. If you notice redness, swelling, and tenderness, make an appointment.

Receding gumlines also deserve an appointment. When this happens, the tooth line may look uneven, or your teeth may appear longer since the gums begin closer to the root than they did before. 

Call your periodontist right away for loose teeth. While minor injuries may tighten up on their own, untreated gum disease will only progress further. 

The Importance of Periodontics

Gum disease first affects the soft tissues surrounding your teeth. When they recede, they typically will not grow back naturally. 

This leads to cosmetic issues that can hurt your confidence. Even worse, it can cause tooth loss, reduced bone density, and serious infections.

Gums help hold your teeth in place. And chewing with your teeth helps to keep the jaw bones compact and strong. 

When your gums recede, and the tooth falls out, you may find it difficult to chew or speak clearly. The worse the gum disease gets, the more difficult it is to replace your teeth.

Untreated gum disease can make you very sick. The bacteria may travel to your heart or cause sepsis. Both conditions can result in death.

What Can They Do to Help?

How can a periodontist help you? They can perform a number of periodontal services, depending on what’s happening with your gums.

They can treat gingivitis and then work on preventative care in the future. When things take a turn for the worse, they can help restore your mouth.

They can get your mouth healthy by removing stubborn plaque and killing the bacteria eating away at your gums. If you suffered a lot of tissue loss, the periodontist can perform procedures that help regrow your gums.

Your periodontist may also perform restorative surgeries for other structures of the mouth when gum disease negatively affects them. They will put in dental implants to replace teeth that fell out or take care of other related cosmetic issues.


Depending on the procedures you need, it can cost you anywhere from hundreds of dollars for minor procedures up to over $100,000 for total mouth reconstruction.

Seeing the periodontist promptly will help keep your charges significantly lower. Fortunately, most dental insurance plans will cover periodontics.

Insurance will cover preventative care and necessary treatments. They may even cover some surgeries. As with general dentistry, most cosmetic procedures will come out of pocket. 

Schedule Your Visit

Do you make your oral health a priority? If not, now is the best time to begin.

See your general dentist regularly for good oral hygiene. And do not hesitate to make an appointment with your periodontist if something seems off. Prompt visits can literally save your smile.

Your smile promotes happiness and good health. We understand that problems with your gums can feel devastating and so we treat our patients with both professionalism and compassion.

Schedule your first visit with us now.