Explore different career options in dentistry - Part 2September 19, 2014
Different types of dental specialists
A general dentist is the type of dentist people go to for their annual oral check-up, to get their teeth examined and cleaned, to have cavities filled and to have X-rays taken. In addition, there are also other specialties within dentistry that are focused on treating a specific dental area. These specialties go beyond the regular dental degree. If you are interested in pursuing any dental specialty, you would need to undergo additional schooling to become licenced in that specialty area.
Here are the different types of dental specialists and the conditions they treat patients for:
Endodontists focus on issues involving the dental pulp and the surrounding tissues. When the cavity reaches the pulp of a tooth, general dentists refer their patients to an Endodonist to get a root canal performed. Root canals are one of the most common procedures performed by an Endodontist, but they are also often called upon to assist in repairing cracked and broken teeth.
An Orthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on correcting tooth irregularities and jaw disorders. These dental specialists fit patients’ teeth with retainers or braces to fix issues such as crooked teeth, gaps between teeth or teeth that need re-aligning. They also fit patients with braces to fix conditions of the jaw, such as an over or under bite.
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are dental specialists that patients see to have their teeth removed or extracted. These specialists are surgeons. They have undergone training in surgery and are qualified to surgically remove teeth that are impacted and also perform reconstructive surgery of the face. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons often see teenagers and young adults by referral to get their wisdom teeth pulled out. While a general dentist is qualified to perform some types of extractions, many prefer to refer their patients to an oral surgeon for teeth extraction, especially in cases where the tooth or teeth are impacted.
A Prosthodontist is a dentist who specialises replacing missing teeth. These specialists also restore natural teeth and create substitute inserts for oral tissues that are damaged. They work on crowns, bridges and dentures and also treat TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder. They are also skilled at mouth reconstructing after oral cancer.
Periodontists are dental specialists who deal with conditions of the gums and bones. They specialise in treating gum disease and advise patients about good oral hygiene to avoid build-up of plaque. They also build up bones in the mouth, which have been damaged by gum disease or implants. If gum disease or gingivitis is present, a Periodontist would be the specialist that the patient would see to have the excess plaque removed.
These are just a few of the different types of dental specialists that treat patients with a wide array of dental conditions. All of these dental specialties are related and will often overlap. Many times all or some of these specialists will be required to work together with the general dentist to meet a patient’s unique needs.