Dental Specialists And Their Areas of Expertise
A general dentist is a family practitioner who performs a variety of treatments and preventative care for dental caries and periodontal disease, diagnostics, fillings, crowns and caps.
A general dentist is qualified to carry out these dental procedures, evaluations and treatments, however in some cases a patient may be referred to a dental specialist when the treatment requires more specialized knowledge and dexterity.
A dental specialty is an area of dentistry that has been formally recognized by the American Dental Association.
To become a specialist requires training in a residency and once the residency is completed, the doctor is granted a certificate of specialty training. Many specialty programs have optional or required advanced degrees each of which requires additional schooling beyond the four years associated with the DDS and DMD degrees.
Dentistry has nine specialty fields that meet specific requirements for recognition of Dental Specialists:
- Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology – Dentists who practice this specialty focus on identifying, diagnosing and treating diseases of the oral cavity (teeth, lips, cheeks, jaw bone) as well as parts of the face and neck.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery – This specialty includes dental surgeons who perform surgeries to correct oral and facial deformities (reconstructive surgery). They also perform dental implants and palate procedures including the diagnosis and treatment of infections in the maxillofacial region.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology – Dentists with this specialty focus on the radiologic interpretation of diseases related to craniofacial, dental and adjacent structures.
- Endodontics – These dental specialists have a primary focus on the roots of the teeth and the soft tissue below the tooth. They treat conditions caused by injury or disease. Root canal therapy is the most commonly performed endodontic procedure.
- Orthodontics Dentofacial Orthopedics – These specialists straighten teeth and correct the alignment of the teeth and jaw using dental braces and retainers to improve both the function and appearance of the teeth.
- Pedodontics (Pediatric Dentistry) – These dentists specialize in the dental treatment of young children through early adulthood.
- Periodontics – This specialty focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of functional and structural diseases of the supporting structures of the teeth as well as the treatment of bacterial infections affecting the gum tissue (periodontal disease).
- Prosthodontics – These dental specialists focus on repairing worn or broken natural teeth and/ or the replacement of missing teeth with the use of dentures, bridges, veneers crowns and caps.
If your dentist recommends a specialist, he/she will work closely together to maintain and restore your oral health.