Types of Dentists - an overview of dental specialties
Not sure of the difference between an endodontist, a orthodontist? Don't know whether you need a periodontist, a prosthodontist or a pedodontist? Here's a quick rundown of the various dental specialists and what they do.
If you've ever had the misfortune of needing a root canal, you know what an endodontist does! Endodonics deals with diseases and disorders of the dental pulp and soft tissue. An endodontist will work to cure these problems and save your teeth. The endodontist may also be able to save a tooth which has been knocked out of your mouth.
Endodontists must take an additional 2-3 years of specialized study beyond dental school, and participate in continuing education to stay current in their field.
Commonly seen for wisdom tooth removals, an oral surgeon is a someone who specializes in surgery of the mouth and face. Among the many procedures an oral surgeon performs are removal of oral cancers, reconstructive surgery, tooth removals, repair of birth defects, placement of dental implants, surgery to alleviate TMJ symptoms and repair of facial bone fractures.
Orthodontists specialize in straightening teeth to improve your tooth alignment and bite. This is done mostly through the use of braces and retainers. Teeth can be straightened at any age. It is most common to do so in the early teen years, but modern innovations in braces, including clear plastic, accelerated orthodontics and Invisalign™, have made teeth straightening popular with adults.
A pedodontist (also known as a pediatric dentist) specializes in children's dentistry. In addition to general dental training, a pedodontists also have training in child psychology and development, making them well prepared to treat even fearful or difficult children. Since they only deal with baby teeth, preventative care is a focus of the pedodontist's practice.
Do you have gum disease or advanced gingivitis? A periodontist is the person to see. Periodontists specialize in diseases of the gums. Becoming a periodontist requires another 2 years of advanced study after completing dental school.
Prosthodontists specialize in fixing or replacing teeth. You may want to visit a prosthodontist for dental implants or dentures. They also fit bridges, crowns and veneers and do some reconstructive work.
Cosmetic dentists offer a variety of services intended to enhance the appearance of your smile. These include tooth whitening, veneers, bonding and dental implants. For more information, see our article on cosmetic dentistry.
General/ Family Dentist
A General Dentist is a standard family practitioner, providing preventative care, diagnostics and basic treatments, such as fillings, crowns and caps. Many general dentists also offer tooth whitening.