Did you know that there are many different sub-specialties of dentistry? Dentists of all kinds are highly trained to keep your teeth and mouth healthy and treat any issues that may arise. Maintaining good oral health is a critical part of your overall health and well-being. Neglecting your dental health can lead to various other complications including endocarditis, heart disease, pregnancy complications, and pneumonia.
Read on to understand the different types of dentists, what they do, and how they can help you with your oral health.
Why Is It Important to Recognize the Different Types of Dentists?
In the same way that your general practitioner will refer you to a specialist for a unique issue that may arise, your general dentist may refer you to a dental specialist for an oral health problem. For instance, if you are experiencing constant foot pain, your general practitioner would not treat that problem. Rather, your doctor would refer you to a Podiatrist. Dentists work in a similar fashion.
Below, you will find basic explanations for each of the different types of dentists to help you understand their specialties.
What Are the Different Types of Dentists?
Here are the different types of dentists you should know about.
General dentists have graduated from dental school and passed their boards but have not studied and trained in a specific kind of dentistry. General dentists can help their patients of all ages maintain their overall oral health through routine cleanings, cancer screenings, gum treatments, and whitening procedures. They can also perform dental procedures when general dental problems arise. These include fillings, caps and crowns, bridges, veneers, root canals, and extractions.
Periodontists care for patients who have problems with their gums, dental bones, and tissues that support their teeth. Some people experience bone loss and tissue damage in the structures around their teeth. Periodontists are trained to treat these problems and will perform many procedures to save a patient's teeth. These include gum reductions, gum leveling, gum grafts, and bone grafting
Endodontists specialize in root canals. When the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected, it quickly becomes very painful and requires a root canal. During this procedure, an endodontist will drill a hole into the affected tooth, remove the infected tissue and nerves, clean and disinfect the canal, and seal it to prevent any more bacteria from entering the canal. Endodontists can also perform a surgical procedure called an apicoectomy on any teeth that won’t heal following a root canal.
An orthodontist’s goal is to correct a misaligned bite or a malocclusion. Orthodontists use several methods to correct these problems, including growth modification appliances for children to alter the growth patterns of their jaws. Orthodontists specialize in moving the teeth themselves into proper alignment using various methods and tools like braces, brackets, wires, Invisalign trays, and retainers
Oral surgeons perform surgical procedures to maintain oral health and treat problems. These include tooth extractions, corrective jaw surgeries for jaws that are severely misaligned, facial trauma surgeries, biopsies, bone grafts, implant procedures, and TMJ surgeries. Many oral surgeons have on-site operating suites so that these procedures can be performed in their offices rather than in a hospital.
Prosthodontists make prostheses, or replacement teeth, that replace some or all a patient’s teeth. These include porcelain crowns and bridges and partial or full dentures. Prosthodontists are also able to build specialty dentures for patients who have lost part of their jaw due to accidents, cancer, or physical defects.
Pedodontists specialize in pediatric dentistry. Many children develop fear and anxiety about dental procedures, and pedodontists are trained in dealing with these issues and giving them the extra care and time that they require. In a pedodontist’s office, children with extreme anxiety can be mildly sedated so that any necessary dental procedures can be completed safely and efficiently. Pedodontists are also trained to treat children with special needs.
What Type of Training Do Different Types of Dentists Need?
All dentists must complete a four-year postgraduate program to obtain their DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. After they complete their graduate program, they must pass their state dental board exam to become licensed in their state. If they want to become one of the specialists discussed above, they must attend an additional residency program in that field.
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