When it comes to looking for a dentist, you may come across terms such as cosmetic dentistry, general dentistry, or family dentistry. Even more confusing, dentists can be endodontists, periodontists, or orthodontists, etc., but do you know what those words mean? This article takes a quick look at the different types of dental specialists and these dental terms.
According to the American Dental Association, dentistry is “the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment (nonsurgical, surgical or related procedures) of diseases, disorders and/or conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and/or the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body.” Basically, dentists are practitioners who focus on medical problems of the mouth and adjacent areas.
Types of Dentistry
General dentistry is focused mainly on preventive dental procedures, such as diagnosis, x-rays, cleanings, and patient counseling. General dentists can provide treatment for most dental conditions, and are proficient at most all treatments. Some might decide to focus on one particular area of dentistry, however.
The majority of dentists are general dentists. They make up eighty percent of the dentists in the US. Various types of diagnostic, preventive, restorative, and cosmetic services are provided by general dentists in order to provide their patients with good oral health. To practice general dentistry a person must get specialized education to receive a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree from a dental college.
The term family dentistry is used to describe when a general dentist provides dental care to all family members, whatever their age is. General dentists who make their focus family dentistry treat common dental conditions that can happen to someone at any stage of their lives.
As opposed to addressing the functional aspect of the gums, teeth and bite, cosmetic dentistry refers to procedures to improve the aesthetic appearance of a person’s smile. It primarily involves the appearance of a smile, including the size, color, and shape of teeth. The treatments provided include things like teeth reshaping, straightening, whitening, bridging, gum lifting, and installing implants and veneers.
Different Types of Dentists
A dentist who goes beyond general dentistry and undergoes additional education and training can become specialists. Below we explain what some of these types of specialists do.
Root canal therapy specialists. Knowledgable on tooth pulp, blood vessels, and nerves.
Responsible for treating the alignment of teeth with braces, headgear, mouthguards, clear aligners, retainers, and facemasks. Help improve bone structure and modify midface and mandibular growth.
Also called a Pediatric Dentist. This type of dentist has a focus on children’s dental care, from newborns to teens. They provide counseling for the oral habits of children, like thumb-sucking.
Deal with the periodontium, which is the soft tissue in your mouth such as the gums, through both non-surgical and surgical treatment.
Oral (and Maxillofacial) Surgeon
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are responsible for performing surgeries of the soft and hard tissues of the face, such as corrective jaw surgery, dental implant surgery, cleft lip or cleft palate surgery, and tooth extractions.
A prosthodontist replaces teeth that are damaged or broken, for both cosmetic and functional reasons, with oral prostheses such as bridges, dentures, and implants.
Dental Public Health (DPH)
Focusing on populations instead of individuals, this specialization deals with the promotion of oral health and preventing oral disease.
Geriodontics, or Geriatric Dentistry, deals with age-related oral problems and treating senior citizens.
As a General Dentist, Dr. Clauson is well-suited to help her patients with any needs they may have and can refer them to a specialist when needed. Do you have a dental concern, or are you due for a checkup? Contact us now to schedule your next appointment!