When it comes to dentistry, there is not just one single dentist that handles all of the different dental problems that may arise. In fact, there are several dental specialists that specialize in different areas of the mouth, dental conditions, and more. Below, we will take a look at some of the different types of dentists to help you better understand why you may be referred to a new dental provider when a dental condition arises.
The diagnosis and management of oral diseases through the use of imaging technologies like x-rays is the concern of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology while surgical treatment of the disease and injuries of the mouth and oral and maxillofacial region is the focus of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is the area that specializes in the diagnosis and correction of dental and facial irregularities. The oral health needs of children, from infants to adolescents, are covered in Pediatric Dentistry while Periodontics deals with the diagnosis and treatment of gum and bone diseases. The replacement of missing teeth and restoration of natural teeth and other structures are the concern of Prosthodontics.
Sometimes your oral health needs may require your general dentist to refer you to a dental specialist. Dental specialists have completed an additional two to four years of training that is focused on a specific side of dentistry. Here are the most common types of dental specialists.
Who is the one health care provider you see more than any other? For many people, the answer is: their general dentist. There’s a good reason for that—it’s because general dentistry is uniquely oriented toward the prevention of disease. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 65 percent of all dental procedures are either diagnostic or preventive. By placing a strong emphasis on oral health and hygiene, general dentists help people avoid the progression of oral diseases. If left untreated, these eventually result in pain, lost time at work or school—and an estimated cost of billions of dollars each year.
Within dentistry, there are specific specialties which require further training, creating expertise in a particular area. Examples of specialties include:
Endodontist: Root canal specialist
Inside our teeth are tiny cavern-like passages called canals that contain sensitive living tissue (pulp), blood vessels, and nerves. Endodontists specialize in diagnosing and treating issues within our tooth. For example, if your tooth’s pulp becomes infected you may need a root canal. If your dentist believes a root canal is necessary, they may recommend you visit an endodontist for treatment.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: Oral surgery specialist
This specialist focuses on treating problems related to the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth, and jaw. You don’t need an oral surgeon for every type of oral surgery. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in treatments that require complex procedures or deep levels of sedation – beyond nitrous oxide or laughing gas. In fact, oral surgeons are the only health care professionals besides anesthesiologists who can administer all levels of sedation. Procedures performed by oral surgeons include tooth extractions, corrective jaw surgery, and cleft lip or cleft palate surgery.
Orthodontist: Alignment specialist
Orthodontics is about correcting teeth and jaws that are out of position. You may see an orthodontist if your jaw isn’t aligned properly leading to an overbite, underbite or crossbite. You may see an orthodontist if your teeth are crooked or misaligned. In these situations, an orthodontist may use braces, clear aligners, palatal expanders, or headgear as part of your treatment plan. Your child’s pediatric dentist may recommend a consultation from an orthodontist. Whether you’re seeking orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child, be sure your plan covers it. Also, make sure your plan doesn’t require a referral from your primary care dentist.
Pediatric Dentist: Kid dental specialist
Pediatric dentists are to a child’s oral health like pediatricians are to their overall health. They’re dentists who specialize in the oral development and care of children from infancy through their teens. Pediatric dentists help your child stay on the path to a lifelong, healthy smile. They provide routine exams and cleanings, habit counseling (stop thumb sucking), fillings for cavities, and diagnosis of oral conditions associated with other diseases like childhood diabetes. Pediatric dentists monitor the development of your child’s smile and recommend specialists care when needed, like orthodontics.
Periodontist: Gum specialist
Periodontal dentistry focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that affect the gums, and other structures that support the teeth. Think of them as the gum disease experts of dentistry. Periodontists recognize and treat the early stages of gum disease, perform minor surgery to resolve severe gum disease, and restore the appearance of your smile. If you’re diagnosed with gum disease, dentists near me may refer you to a periodontist.
Prosthodontist: Replacement specialist
Prosthodontists focus on restoring and replacing lost or damaged teeth. Prosthodontists have a unique understanding of everything that goes into a beautiful, functional, and natural-looking smile. Prosthodontists specialize in porcelain veneers, crowns, dental implants, fixed bridges, dentures, and reconstructive dentistry. If you need a dental treatment related to replacing or repairing teeth, dentists near me may recommend you visit a prosthodontist.