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Did you know that the term dentist doesn’t only refer to the one you see once or twice a year? Do you want to learn more about the specialists who take care of your oral health? Are you curious about the different types of dentists,?
Like other types of doctors, there’s more to dentists than the ones you see in clinics. The term dentist is only an umbrella term for people who specialize in oral care. Keep reading to learn more about the specific types of dentists and what they’re called.
1. General Dentist
When you say the word dentist, this is the typical specialist that may pop in other people’s heads. This is the most and often the only known type of dentist in the field. The general dentist is the one you see for routine exams and oral pain.
They often give preventative oral care to patients. That means they educate patients about the correct methods of oral care at home. They also perform regular teeth cleaning and checkups to help prevent tooth damage.
If you need your teeth whitened, they offer their services for that type of work as well. They’ll also replace missing teeth or patch up teeth cracks or chips. If their abilities or qualifications aren’t enough to help you, they’ll refer you to the other types of dentists.
For example, they perform a dental X-ray and see that you need surgery to remove your wisdom tooth. They will refer you to an oral surgeon to do the job. If they see that you need braces to realign your teeth, they’ll refer you to an orthodontist.
Western social beauty standards dictate that an attractive person has straight teeth. That’s why a lot of adults had to endure wearing braces when they were teenagers or younger. Today, you won’t see a lot of those metal bands anymore.
Metal braces are out and “invisible” braces are in. You may know of the popular invisible braces that came into the spotlight in recent years, Invisalign. In 2018, Align sold over 80 million pairs of Invisalign.
If you’re considering getting them, the person who’ll give them to you will be an orthodontist. It’s their job to correct misaligned teeth and jawbones. They also specialize in correcting other supporting facial structures.
They use a variety of tools to help straighten their patients’ teeth. That includes metal wires, braces, clear brackets, retainers, and more.
If you need teeth realignment, your general dentist will refer you to an orthodontist.
Observe the meanings of the words endoscopy, endogeny, and endoderm. All these words have a relation to the meanings “within” or “inner”. The same applies to endodontics.
An endodontist has specialized knowledge in the inner part or workings of the tooth. That means they study the part of the tooth known as the pulp. The pulp is the soft and sensitive living tissue at the innermost part of your tooth.
It contains the nerve endings in your teeth. You’ll find it underneath the exterior layer of enamel and dentin. The pulp is also below the gumline.
Because it’s living tissue, any damage to the pulp can be quite painful. An endodontist will help heal or remove the decay or damage in the pulp. They also perform root canals when a tooth isn’t salvageable anymore.
4. Pedodontist or Pediatric Dentist
Most kids don’t lose all their baby teeth until they’re 12 years old. Kids often have toothaches and other oral problems before they lose their baby teeth. The CDC says that 1 in 5 kids who are 5-11 years old have at least one decayed tooth left untreated.
Remember that a child’s teeth are different from an adult’s. Like pediatricians, pedodontists specialize in taking care of kids’ and youths’ oral health. That is why you need to bring your child to a pediatric dentist if they have tooth pains.
You may remember having anxieties when seeing the dentist during your childhood. Pediatric dentists know how to best handle those anxieties for kids. They’re more patient and in tune with children and adolescents.
Some general dentists won’t see children in their office and instead refer them to a pedodontist. Pedodontists offer the usual services that a general dentist offers. They perform routine cleaning, dental X-rays, extractions, and more.
Do you need an artificial replacement for a missing tooth? The dentist you need to see is a prosthodontist. Look for a dentist who is a Certified Specialist in Prosthodontics.
Of the many types of dental specialists, a prosthodontist takes care of those who’ve lost parts or entire teeth. They specialize in creating oral prostheses or replacement teeth for their patients. They can treat something as small as a chipped tooth or replace an entire arch full of missing teeth.
Oral prostheses can include crowns, bridges, implants, veneers, or dentures. Prosthodontists create removable and fixed, and temporary and permanent prostheses. They know how to create prostheses that function and look like natural teeth.
They don’t only repair teeth. They also help repair jawbones or other parts of the jaw. The common causes of these include accidents, physical defects, or cancer.
Prosthodontists are responsible for cosmetic “smile makeovers.” They also take care of those who need custom teeth reconstruction after trauma or injury. They work with dental labs to create oral appliances and prosthetics to ensure they have a good fit.
In the US, 46% of adults have signs of gum disease. These signs include loose teeth, swollen gums, and bleeding gums. When someone is showing signs like these, who wouldn’t go to a specialist to get it checked?
If you need work done on your gums, your general dentist will refer you to a periodontist. A periodontist’s focus is on everything related to the gums. They know everything about periodontal (or gum) diseases and how to treat and prevent them.
They can help diagnose and treat extreme gum disease. They also take care of inflamed or painful gums. If you need cosmetic skin grafting on your gums, a periodontist will perform it.
The knowledge your general dentist has on gum disease prevention and treatment may come from a periodontist. Most dental implants and all-in-four implants involve invasive gum surgery. A periodontist will be there if you need to have dental implants installed.
7. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Your mouth consists of more than the teeth, gums, tongue, and lips. It also has soft and hard tissues like the soft and hard palates. Facial tissues around your mouth also affect how it functions and looks.
These areas are what oral and maxillofacial surgeons have a specialty in. Most people know that oral surgeons perform wisdom tooth extractions. They also perform other tooth or oral procedures that need surgery.
Oral surgeons lay the groundwork for future work on a patient’s jaw or teeth. They add improvements to the jaw and teeth before other procedures can occur. When they’re done, the false teeth, oral appliances, or cosmetic work come next.
These dental surgeons also help with reconstructive surgeries. If you have a cleft palate or cleft lip that you’ll have fixed soon, you’ll likely meet an oral surgeon soon. Other jobs they do are cancerous tissue extraction and surgical jaw correction.
Other dentist types can perform surgeries. Oral surgeons perform tasks that need deep levels of sedation. Here’s a fun fact about oral and maxillofacial surgeons. They’re the only healthcare professionals who administer all levels of sedation next to anesthesiologists.
How to Know Which Types of Dentists to Visit
You don’t need to look for a specific specialist to get your teeth fixed. As we mentioned, your general dentist or physician will refer you to the types of dentists that you need to see. If they don’t have the qualifications to provide specialized care for you, general dentists will refer you to another specialist.
Remember that general dentists often know only preventative oral care. They also take care of common problems like toothaches or simple extractions only. Inserting dental implants or removing wisdom teeth needs a different type of specialist.
Something else that you may have concerns with is your dental insurance. You may be wondering if other dentists take your dental insurance if you get referred to them. There is no clear-cut answer to this query.
Many dental plans vary and cover different scenarios. Others have full coverage, including specialty care. If you have questions about your dental insurance, contact your carrier to discuss it.
Learn More About the Different Types of Dentists
We use our teeth and mouth every day to eat, speak, and breathe. While it’s a resilient part of our body, it can get infections, diseases, and injuries. Thus, we need doctors who specialize in caring for our oral health to help us fix such problems.
That ends our list of dentist options. As you can see, their specializations work as complements to each other. It’s like in other fields of medicine where they need each other to function well.
We hope you enjoyed reading about the various types of dentists. If you want to learn more about similar topics, feel free to read the rest of our content.