Your family dentist is someone you visit in case of any dental issue. However, when it comes to teeth there are many specialists too. Many different types of oral health care providers could become involved in the care of your teeth, gums, and mouth. A brief description of these various health care providers is as follows:
A general dentist is your primary care dental provider. This dentist diagnosis treats and manages your overall oral health care needs, including gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, and preventive education. All practicing general dentists have earned either a DDS or DMD degree (doctor of dental surgery or doctor of dental medicine, respectively). There is no difference between the two degrees or the curriculum requirements that dentists must meet. Some schools simply award the one degree, while others award the other.
Generally, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is required to become a general dentist. Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist.
Dental Public Health Clinics
Dental public health clinics promote dental health through organized community efforts. The clinics serve to educate the public through group dental care programs with the goal of preventing and controlling dental diseases on a community-wide basis. Dental public health clinics offer such services as finding a dentist, developing dental care programs for schools, providing information on fluoridation in the community, answering common questions about oral health, and providing other oral health resources and support materials to their community.
An endodontist is a dental specialist concerned with the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth. This specialist may perform simple to difficult root canal treatments or other types of surgical root procedures.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist
A radiologist is the oral health care provider who specializes in the taking and interpretation of all types of X-ray images and data that are used in the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region.
An orthodontist is the oral health care provider who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and treatment of malocclusions, or “bad bites,” of the teeth and surrounding structures. Malocclusions can result from crowded, missing, or extra teeth or jaws that are out of alignment. This specialist is responsible for straightening teeth by moving them through bone using bands, wires, braces, and other fixed or removable corrective appliances or retainers. This specialist treats children as well as adults who may wish to improve their appearance and bite.
Pediatric Dentist/Dentistry for children
A pediatric dentist is the oral health care provider who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the dental problems of children from the age of one or two to early adulthood. This dentist can detect, treat, or refer (as needed) problems with decayed, missing, crowded, or crooked teeth. A pediatric dentist has at least two additional years of training beyond dental school. The additional training focuses on the management and treatment of a child’s developing teeth, child behavior, physical growth and development, and the special needs of dentistry for children.
A periodontist is the oral health care provider who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases of the soft tissues of the mouth (the gums) and the supporting structures (bones) of the teeth (both natural and man-made teeth). This dentist diagnoses and treats gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) as well as periodontitis (gum and bone disease). A periodontist may perform the following procedures: simple and deep pocket cleanings, root planing, crown lengthening procedures, soft tissue and/or bone grafting, gingival or flap procedures, soft tissue recontouring or removal (gingivoplasty or gingivectomy), hard tissue recontouring (osteoplasty), and implant placement.