Endodontist vs. Periodontist: Which Should You See?

Your dentist can provide cleanings and treat minor tooth or gum problems. But certain problems with your teeth or gums may require specialized care. You might need to see an endodontist for a tooth root infection. If you have severe gum disease, you might need to seek care from a periodontist. How do you know which specialist to see? Learn more about endodontists and periodontists and the kinds of care they provide.

What Endodontists Do

An endodontist treats problems with the tooth root and other structures inside the tooth, such as the pulp. These specialists receive training through dental school and endodontics programs. They also need certification from the American Board of Endodontics. Your dentist might refer you to this kind of specialist if you have an infection or damage to the root of one or more teeth. Endodontists have specialized training for performing complex procedures involving tooth roots and pulp.

Root Canal

Root canals are one of the most common procedures that endodontists perform. This kind of procedure involves removing infected or damaged pulp from inside your tooth, which helps clear up infections and prevent more. Having a root canal done offers a way to save your natural tooth instead of having it extracted. Although some dentists perform root canals, keep in mind that endodontists have more training in doing these procedures. They also typically have more advanced tools and equipment for root canals.


An apicoectomy involves removing the tip of a tooth root and the tissue around it. This type of procedure may be needed after a root canal if you still have an infection in the root tip. Removing the tip and infected tissue stops bacteria from spreading and causing a more widespread tooth infection. An apicoectomy is also performed if there are problems with the anatomy of root tips. For example, some root tips might crowd others, which can lead to tooth problems.

Other Endodontic Procedures

Endodontists perform other kinds of procedures that involve the tooth root. They can treat cracked teeth to help ensure proper healing and prevent these teeth from having to be removed. Endodontists also do retreatment for root canals in some cases. This may be needed if an initial root canal is unsuccessful. These specialists also provide treatment for traumatic tooth injuries, such as dislodged or avulsed teeth.


What Periodontists Do

A periodontist treats problems with the gums, such as advanced periodontal disease. These dental specialists receive training through dental school and periodontics programs. They also receive certification from the American Board of Periodontology. You might need to see a periodontist if you have severe gum disease that your dentist can’t treat. Advanced periodontal disease can raise the risk of other health problems, so it’s important to seek this kind of care if needed.

Gum Grafting

Periodontists do gum grafting to help lower the risk of severe periodontal disease. This procedure involves covering up exposed tooth roots when you have recessed gums. When tooth roots are exposed, this can lead to tooth decay and bone loss. Gum grafting helps restore volume to your gums, while also protecting you from serious gum infections.

Deep Cleaning

When you have gum disease, regular dental cleanings might not be enough to remove tartar buildup. Periodontists do deep cleanings, called scaling and root planing, that eliminate plaque and tartar from your gums and teeth. This includes any gum pockets that have formed due to periodontal disease. These deep cleanings help reduce your risk of developing advanced gum disease.

Other Procedures

Periodontists perform several other procedures that involve the gums. Pocket reduction is done to close up pockets that form as your gums pull away from your teeth when you have gum disease. Regenerative procedures are done to replace damaged tissue and promote the growth of new bone tissue. Periodontists also perform dental crown lengthening to help your teeth appear longer if you have a “gummy smile.”


When to Seek Care

Anytime you have pain or other problems with your teeth or gums, you should seek care. Your dentist can refer you to an endodontist or periodontist as needed. Remember that delaying treatment for tooth infections can increase the risk of needing a tooth extraction done. Putting off gum treatment allows bacteria to spread, resulting in more advanced gum disease. Severe periodontal disease can cause you to lose your natural teeth and lead to bone loss.

If you’re dealing with tooth pain, please contact our team at Largo Endodontics for an appointment with our endodontist. Dr. Rillman can examine the affected tooth and recommend the right kind of treatment to ease pain, heal infections, and preserve your tooth.