The most common types of dentists are general dentists, the kind you should visit regularly for routine check-ups and teeth cleanings. Hopefully, a general dentist is all you’ll need, but there may come a time when you require specialized treatment due to an accident, issues with your overall health, heredity, or other reasons. According to recent stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of adults age 30 and older suffer from some form of gum disease; with such high prevalence of oral health issues, it’s important to know what specialized dentists are out there in case there comes a time when you do need extra treatment. Your trusted general dentist can help with the problem identification and referral processes, but this article provides a general overview to get you started.
The Different Types of Dentists
Beyond general dentistry, there are 6 common, specialized areas of dentistry that require additional education and certification after dental school:
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
- Pedodontist or Pediatric Dentist
What Kinds of Treatment Do These Different Types of Dentists Provide?
Orthodontists specialize in alignment of the teeth and jaw, using tools like braces, palatal expanders, clear aligners, headgear or retainers to correct issues such as crooked teeth, overbites, underbites and crossbites. Sometimes, your dental plan requires a referral from your primary dentist, so be sure to check.
Periodontists specialize in the treatment and repair of diseases that affect your gums and other structures that support your teeth. Your general dentist focuses on the prevention of these issues, but if progressive gum disease or tissue damage is found, a periodontist can help.
Endodontists focus on diagnosing and treating issues within your tooth, where passages called “canals” hold sensitive blood vessels, nerves and tissue. When decay around the tooth nerve is found, or the tissue becomes infected, your general dentist may recommend a root canal by an endodontist.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons specialize in more serious problems related to the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth and jaw. They can perform more complex procedures such as the removal of impacted teeth or reconstructive facial surgery that may require deep levels of sedation.
Prosthodontists specialize in the repair of teeth and jaw bones, and replacement with crowns, bridges, or removable prosthetics (dentures) when necessary. They also provide cosmetic dentistry services such as whitening or veneers.
Pedodontists or Pediatric Dentists specialize in child dentistry, focusing on the oral development and care of children from infancy through their teens. They educate kids on healthy practices and prevent dental problems later in life. They monitor alignment of your child’s smile and refer to orthodontists when problems arise.
When Do You Need Different Types of Dentist?
In order to ensure any dental issues are identified and diagnosed in a timely matter, therefore preventing further degradation, it’s important to visit your general dentist at least once a year. Regular visits to your general dentist can also prevent many of these problems from happening in the first place.
If you suspect you may need any type of specialized dentist, or if you are experiencing any unusual pain in your mouth or jaw, talk to your general dentist and seek their professional option as soon as possible. They can help connect you with the right specialist to get your smile back in business!
At Nicholson Family Dental, we offer extensive preventative, cosmetic and restorative services for the whole family as well as referrals where needed – contact us today to explore how we can help.