10 Dental Specialties: Who Should You See For What?
Did you know there are currently ten dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association? I don’t know about you, but growing up, I always figured a general dentist was the one stop shop for everything oral. Turns out, I was wrong. A general dentist is best known for being the front line in oral healthcare. Regular visits to your general dentist for cleanings and check-ups will help prevent potentially painful future problems. Cleanings, fillings, restorations, and screenings are all examples of what general dentists have been trained to do in dental school.
They are, however, not actually a specialist and will often refer a patient to a specialist if a problem presents that is beyond their scope of training. The difference between a general dentist and a specialist is the amount of education. A general dentist will receive their dental degree after completing 4 years of postgraduate dental school. Specialist have also completed this and then continue on for an additional 2-6 years of specialized education.
Below you will find details regarding each of the dental specialties. Education is key. Learning which specialist is best qualified to handle specific oral problems will give you the opportunity to find the best possible solution for any oral health issues.
This is the newest recognized specialty in the dental field. They were approved and officially recognized in March of 2019. These guys are known as the pain management specialist. They go through an extensive amount of additional training after dental school to be able to administer the proper amount of anesthesia in any given situation.
Oral surgeons have gone through the same extensive training and are also well qualified for administering all four levels of anesthesia. Now that dental anesthesia is recognized as a separate specialty, you may consider oral surgeons as duel specialist!
Dental Public Health
This non-clinical specialty focuses on working through government or federal sponsored programs to promote dental health by preventing and controlling dental and gum diseases. They provide leadership in population-based dentistry by monitoring overall oral health in organized populated communities.
Unlike other dental professions, Public Health Dentists do not treat patients in offices. You will more commonly see them researching and educating communities on adopting better oral health practices by visiting schools or hosting seminars for other dentists.
These dentists specialize in the soft inner tissue of a tooth called “pulp”. More commonly known as the Root Canal Experts, this specialty focuses on saving teeth. Endodontist are required to be licensed in the state they practice in and to complete a certain amount of continued education every year.
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
Specialist in this field deal with disease within and around your mouth. Oral Pathologist diagnose and study the causes and effects of oral diseases. Often this is done through different types of imaging and taking biopsies that they can study under a microscope.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist
Oral Radiology is the newest of the nine recognized dental specialties by the American Dental Association. As you can probably guess, this specialty focuses on viewing and interpreting oral radiographs. In recent years, there have been significant advancements in imaging that allow for highly accurate interpretation, diagnosing, and treatment.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Oral Surgeons specialize in surgical procedures dealing in and around the jaw and face. The most common of these are tooth extractions and placement of dental implants. These specialists are also trained in administering all levels of anesthesia. Other common procedures these surgeons are trained to perform include TMJ treatments, facial reconstructive surgery, bone grafts, and more.
We all know this specialty, don’t we? Orthodontist are best known for braces. They specialize in treatment of improper bites and crooked teeth. When the bite is misaligned, damage occurs to teeth and structural problems begin to surface.
Pedodontist or Pediatric Dentist
A Pedodontist specializes in the dental treatment of children. They have had additional psychological training and present a particular attitude that is best suited in helping our little humans. Their main goal is to help teach children and young adolescents proper oral health care techniques.
Periodontist are the gum disease specialist. Their focus is on everything supportive around the tooth such as the gums, alveolar bone, and periodontal ligaments. The most common procedures performed by periodontist are aimed to treat gingivitis and periodontitis.
Prosthodontist are the replacement specialist. They focus on creating prosthetics that replace everything from a single tooth to all teeth and gums in the mouth. They use substitutes such as dental crowns, bridges, and partial or full dental prosthesis.
There should never be any question about who will be able to provide you the best quality care. If you ever have any questions or are in need of help, feel free to call our office anytime at (435) 652-1445