When you think of dentists, more than likely you think of the general, or “family dentist”, who provides a comprehensive dental care and the majority of dentists, are general dentists. They provide a wide range of services, from teeth cleanings and fillings to root canals and implants. However, dentists can become specialists in certain fields. It’s important to be aware that are only ten recognized dental specialties by the America Dental Association. So let’s break down what these other kinds of dentists are, and what they do.
Dental Public Health: These dental specialists serve the whole community as a patient rather than an individual. These specialists want to improve the health of all citizens and support effective programs of oral health education and dental disease prevention.
Endodontics: These specialists are the authority on root canals!
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology: Their goal is to identify and manage diseases affecting the mouth. If you ever had a dentist take a biopsy, it was sent to a pathologist to get the diagnosis.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology: They are dentistry’s specialists in radiology (x-rays).
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Think wisdom teeth! We refer many of our patients to Oral surgeons to have those pesky wisdom teeth removed in later teenage years.
Pediatric Dentistry: The big authority on little teeth! Pediatric dentists provide primary care and comprehensive specialty treatment for infants, children, adolescents, and individuals with special health care needs. Did you know that pediatric dentists are specialists with 2-3 extra years of training and education after dental school? Pediatric dentists comprise about 5% of the dentists in the US.
Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics: Pediatric and general dentists work very closely with orthodontists and may refer your child to them for braces during different phases of their growth and development.
Dental Anesthesiology: This is the newest specialty and was recognized in 2019! These are dentists who are extensively trained in the specialized field of anesthesia. They work with other dentists to provide anesthesia during patient procedures. If a child needs extensive dental treatment, they can come to a pediatric dental office and provide anesthesia there so there is no need to take the child to the hospital or an outpatient surgery center.
Periodontics: These specialists are concerned with keeping the gums and bones in your mouth healthy.
Prosthodontics: They restore and rebuild mouths using implants, dentures, crowns, etc.
Becoming a specialist requires dental school graduates to opt for additional training in one of the ten recognized advanced dental education specialties. In addition to a dental degree, specialties require at least 2 additional years of post-graduate university education. Sometimes, graduates can also follow the path to board certification with additional specialized practice and training.