Types of Dentists
When you think about dentistry, your mind probably goes to your family dentist, who performs regular cleanings and dental X-rays. However, dentistry consists of many professionals specializing in different areas.
For example, boca Dental and Braces focuses on the inside of the tooth past the hardened enamel exterior. They perform root canals and are the ones who discover if a patient has an abnormal growth on their x-ray.
Like your primary care physician, the general dentist is a key member of your oral health team. These dental professionals are most familiar with the oral health of your entire family. They can provide routine preventative services and diagnose and treat more complex concerns.
Most patients visit their general dentist at least twice yearly for preventive services such as oral exams, professional cleanings, and screenings for gum disease and other potential problems. These visits enable a dentist or hygienist to remove hardened plaque and tartar from the teeth, which, if left untreated, can lead to tooth decay and, eventually, gum disease (periodontitis).
In addition to these preventive procedures, a general dentist also performs restorative treatments. The most common and effective restorative procedure is dental restoration, which consists of removing a tooth’s decayed or damaged tissue and filling it in to repair the affected tooth. General dentists are also trained to replace missing or broken teeth by placing crowns, bridges, and dentures.
Many general dentists are also qualified to perform cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as teeth whitening and veneers. In addition, some general dentists are trained to perform implant surgery, although this is something that only some general practitioners offer. Many dentists choose to refer their patients for these more specialized treatments. Whether you go to a general dentist or a specialist, you should always ensure that the provider has the proper credentials and training for the specific procedure you’re seeking.
While dental school provides the knowledge necessary for treating oral issues in all people, children have a unique set of needs that require specialized training. That’s where the pediatric dentist comes in. The pediatric dentist (a pedodontist) cares for infants, children, teenagers, and kids with special health needs. While all dentists need to know how to care for a child’s teeth, pediatric dentistry involves additional training in the physiology of growth and development, behavior, communication techniques, pharmacology, special needs patient care, and dental sedation.
Pediatric dentists are also trained to address a variety of dental problems unique to this age group, such as the need for orthodontic intervention to prevent future malocclusions, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders that develop during childhood, and early childhood caries (ECC), which often affects baby teeth and can lead to serious complications if left untreated. They are also skilled at providing advice and counseling on the best habits for caring for a child’s teeth, such as brushing and flossing.
Moreover, pediatric dentists are comfortable working with kids and understand how to communicate with them in a way that makes them feel safe and at ease during dental exams. This helps reduce dental anxiety that could cause a child to avoid going to the dentist. Pediatric dentists also have kid-friendly offices designed and equipped with tools and equipment that are sized appropriately for children.
The full name of an oral surgeon is an “oral and maxillofacial surgeon.” Holding degrees as both dentists and medical doctors, these professionals specialize in the maxillofacial area (the bones of the forehead, cheekbones, and face) and their surrounding soft tissues. This specialty also encompasses the extraction of teeth, designing and placing dental implants, reconstructing facial injuries from sports or accidents, and correcting malformations such as cleft lips and palates.
Many dentists refer their patients to an oral surgeon when surgical intervention is needed around the mouth, jaw, and neck. The oral surgeons at Hill & Ioppolo are board-certified, meaning they have additional training and skills that separate them from other providers who may offer these types of services.
Dental professionals prefer to save natural teeth whenever possible, but there are situations where tooth extraction is the best option. This might be due to severe decay, complications from dental trauma or wisdom teeth, or a failing tooth that has reached the point of no return.
When oral surgeons extract a tooth, they use the least invasive techniques possible. Oral surgeons are trained to use various surgical and anesthesia methods. They typically provide IV sedation, ranging from “twilight sleep” to general anesthesia. This is why you want to choose a dentist who is board-certified. This certification ensures the doctor is a specialist in their field with the necessary training and knowledge to care for your unique needs.
When you think of dental care, the first thing that comes to mind is your family dentist. While these dental professionals have a strong grasp of the entire oral care process and are responsible for most procedures done at dental offices, some dental problems require special attention that only a dentist with specific training can provide.
For example, a dentist specializing in pediatric dentistry can treat children and young teens and is experienced in working with special needs patients. Likewise, a dentist specializing in endodontics can treat the tooth pulp’s morphology, physiology, pathology, and associated periradicular tissues.
Another type of dentist with specialized training is the orthodontist, who focuses on treating and intercepting growth and development issues in the jaw and related structures like the cheeks, lips, tongue, and face. An orthodontist is also responsible for identifying whether braces or other corrective devices are required to address malocclusions.
The radiologist is the specialist who performs and interprets all types of X-rays and other diagnostic imaging for the oral and maxillofacial areas. These dentists are often employed at hospitals and provide services that complement those performed by general practitioners. They may also be responsible for screening medically complex patients before surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. They can also assess and manage a range of dental disorders, including lichen planus, candidiasis, and aphthous stomatitis.
Oral pathology studies the causes, processes, and effects of diseases that affect the mouth, jaw, and face. It is an important part of dentistry because these lesions can signify more serious health problems like cancer. These lesions can lead to infection, bone loss, and even facial deformities if left untreated.
Often, their dentist will refer patients to an oral pathologist for a diagnosis and treatment. However, some patients may visit one directly if they notice any unusual symptoms in their mouth. The oral pathologist will use special tools to take a small tissue sample from the affected area to diagnose a lesion. Afterward, the tissue will be sent to a laboratory for further testing and analysis.
A dental degree and five years of diagnostic histopathology training are required to become an oral pathologist. Many also earn a PhD before or during their training, as they are also involved in research. While dissecting specimens is the main focus of this job, it can also be very rewarding. A successful diagnosis can be like solving a mystery, and it is very satisfying when a patient’s condition improves after treatment. However, the field is not well-respected and is considered a second-rate specialty. This is partly due to the low numbers of students who choose this subject for their MDS and the competition with general pathologists who report cytopathology and histopathology cases in addition to their fields.
If you’ve ever been to the dentist, you may have noticed that there are different types of dental specialists. There are up to ten different kinds of dentists, each with a specific area of expertise.
A General Dentist is the most common type of dentist with the smallest specialization area. They are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients. In addition to performing X-rays, they conduct routine cleanings and preventive services such as fluoride treatments.
Pediatric dentists are specialists who provide oral care for children and adolescents. They are trained in treating young patients and can perform procedures such as fillings and root canals.
Oral Maxillofacial Radiology involves interpreting images and data from the head, neck, mouth, and jaws using X-rays and other imaging devices. This includes evaluating the causes of pain and other abnormalities.
The Oral Pathologist examines clinical, microscopic, radiographic, and biochemical examinations to identify the cause of diseases that start in the mouth and jaw areas. They also act as consultants for other specialists to help diagnose cases.
An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who has gone through four years of undergraduate college and completed a 36-month program. They are skilled at managing pain, anxiety, and overall patient health during dental, oral, maxillofacial, and adjunctive surgical or diagnostic procedures. They also monitor vital signs and make necessary adjustments throughout the procedure.