I remember a time when I thought of the word “dentist” as a general term for anyone who works with your teeth. In reality, there are many types of dental specialists, and they all do different things with the united purpose of oral health.
We all know what a dentist is. This is the guy or girl you see twice a year for teeth cleanings and check-ups. They work with dental hygienists to provide people with care and consulting for oral health. They can diagnose and treat most common problems with your teeth and gums, ranging from cavities to root canals, and bloody gums to gingivitis. They are great, their biggest flaw is that they will always ask how you are doing immediately after putting their hand in your mouth.
It is valuable to understand the different things dental specialists can do for you. Here are 6 common types of dental specialists.
If you take the description I gave for a dentist, and imagine the dentist working with kids, then you understand a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists have to go about three years of additional schooling after dental school to be certified. It is important that we have such dentists as our mouths change so much from when we are children; new teeth come in, teeth are removed, and we learn bad words. Well, they can’t help with the last problem, but they are experts on dentistry for children.
Unless you were blessed with near perfect teeth you are all too familiar with orthodontists, I said bitterly. Orthodontists specialize in the alignment of your teeth and jaw. They can help crooked or shifted teeth, overbite, underbites, and more. They use braces and retainers among other tools to help achieve the desired results for not just your bite and teeth, but for many facial structures. They are actually really great, they work with an inexact science and have incredible results. We all just whine because no one liked having braces.
Now we are getting into specialists you may have never heard of. I’m confident you are familiar with the work Prosthodontists do, even if you didn’t recognize the name. They are the makeover/fashion consultant for your mouth and teeth. They help people receive bridges, crowns, dentures, veneers, tooth implants, etc. Many times they are utilized in the creation of false teeth or other oral hardware to make sure the fit and customization are correct.
Periodontists work with gums. They are all about diagnosing and treating gum related diseases and problems. They can do everything from providing simple treatment and prevention tactics to performing surgery on infected gums. A general dentist can also help in the early stages, but their role is more preventative, and if the disease progresses too far, a periodontist will definitely be needed.
Endodontists care for the inside of the tooth. This includes the nerve of the tooth and the soft inside, or pulp, of the tooth. They treat infections and threats to the “heart” of the tooth because the health of a tooth is directly impacted by the pulp found inside. If a tooth does get an infection or disease, treatment will be administered to try and prevent operation. If the treatment does not have the desired effect, a root canal treatment is necessary. All of these are performed by the Endodontist.
Oral Surgeons focus primarily on operations involving the throat, mouth, and teeth. They are highly trained specialists. A dentist can perform basic operations that require laughing gas. Oral surgeons typically are referred to when people have a complex situation. Oral surgeons operate on cleft palates and lips, remove teeth, can remove tissue, and jaw surgery to name a few. They can administer any level of anesthesia to patients, and many of their surgeries involve a deep sedation level. If you have an operation you need done, seek a referral to find the right clinic or surgeon for you.
If you think you need the care of a specialist, seek the advice of your dentist. There are many offices that provide a range of the services mentioned above. Washington Periodontics is a great example of a quality service on many key oral health problems. Whatever the problem may be, hopefully, you can see now that there is an expert that can help. Dentistry has a lot of different disciplines, all working together to provide quality care for your oral health and well-being.