When it comes to dental care, it's important to understand the different types of dentists available. General dentists are the most common type of dental provider, and they provide basic exams, cleanings, whitening, fillings, and repair work. However, if you have a more complex issue, you may need to see a specialist. In this article, we'll explore the different types of specialty dentists and what they do. General dentistry is like having a family doctor or general practitioner.
This is the person you go to for regular checkups and for general questions about your teeth.
General dentistscan provide relatively simple exams, cleanings, whitening, fillings, and repair work. If your problem requires more specialized care, your general dentist will refer you to a specialist. Some specialized dental providers also offer general dentistry services. This means that you can benefit from their additional training and experience while also establishing a relationship with your doctor when you need more specialized work.
The second most common type of dentist for most Americans is an orthodontist. Derived from the Greek word meaning “straight”, orthodontists specialize in straightening teeth using the most modern methods. While most people associate orthodontics with preteens and teens, orthodontists also treat many adults. An adult may not have had corrective orthodontics when they were young or their teeth may have become misaligned over the years. In addition, an orthodontist often treats chronic conditions such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder).The next type of specialist is an endodontist.
Endodontists are usually associated with root canals, which have a bad reputation but are actually important in helping to save teeth. Endodontists specialize in the inner layers of the teeth, mainly the pulp in the center. The pulp is what keeps the tooth healthy and connects it to the body through blood vessels and nerves. Diseases or damage to the pulp can permanently damage or kill a tooth. If you have broken, damaged, or missing teeth, a prosthodontist can help rebuild them with replacement material.
Prosthodontists design custom dental prostheses that fit your needs including bridges, crowns, veneers, and dentures. Some prosthodontists also repair damage to the jaw or face. A periodontist can treat cases of gum disease or periodontitis with physical remedies such as scraping or smoothing. In more urgent cases they may also perform surgery to treat infected or damaged teeth. Finally, an oral surgeon specializes in surgery. Jaw and gum surgery can be used to repair serious damage, birth defects, or treat cancerous tumors.
Sometimes extracting a particular tooth is more complex than usual so an oral surgeon can handle the delicate work needed. Dental specialties are recognized by the National Commission for the Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certification Boards (NCRDSCB) to protect the public, promote the art and science of dentistry, and improve the quality of care. Dental specialties must meet certain training, education and several requirements to be recognized by NCRDSCCB.