10 Types of Dental Specialists: Get to Know Your Dental Care Team
To achieve a captivating and healthy smile, you sometimes need a tad more care than the standard dental exam, cleaning, and occasional whitening. Because of certain issues and maladies — which can be preventable, hereditary, or accidental — that can arise and impact your overall health, you may need to visit a dental specialist to correct the problem.
Dental specialists are oral healthcare providers who receive specialized training after dental school. These professionals are similar to medical doctors who undergo specific or additional training to become, for example, radiologists and plastic surgeons. In this article, we will discuss the different types of dentists you may encounter during a lifetime of oral care.
10 Types of Dental Specialists: Get to Know Your Dental Care Team
The Types of Dental Specialists
The types of oral health care providers involved in the care of teeth, gums, and mouth are as follows:
1. General Dentist
As your primary dental care provider, a general dentist has many responsibilities and competencies, including the diagnosis, treatment, care, and management of your overall oral health. Non-metal fillings, periodontal (gum) care, root canal surgeries, crowns, bridges, and preventive education are some of the services a general dentist provides, among several others.
Being a licensed periodontist entails diagnosing, treating, and repressing various diseases that occur in the gums (soft tissues of the mouth), as well as the supporting structures (bones) of the teeth, whether they are natural or manmade teeth.
In particular, this dental specialist examines and treats gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (gum and bone disease). Someone who specializes in periodontics may perform these procedures:
- Pocket cleanings
- Root planing
- Soft tissue grafting
- Bone grafting
- Crown lengthening procedures
- Gingival or flap procedures
- Gingivoplasty or gingivectomy (soft tissue recontouring or removal)
- Osteoplasty (Hard tissue recontouring)
- Dental implant placement
An endodontist has the critical responsibility of diagnosing, treating, and preventing infections and injuries in the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth. This dental expert may perform simple to advanced root canal treatments, as well as other types of restorative root procedures.
This oral health care provider specializes in the diagnosis, interception, and treatment of malocclusions, otherwise known as “bad bites” of the teeth and surrounding structures. Orthodontists can transform an unattractive smile to one that radiates.
Malocclusions can result from missing teeth, crowded teeth, excess teeth, or misaligned jaws. An orthodontist’s role is to straighten teeth with the use of specialized bands, wires, and other immovable or detachable corrective appliances like retainers, braces, and Invisalign.
A prosthodontist concentrates in the restoration of natural teeth and the replacement of missing teeth on a larger scale than a general dentist. This dental care professional utilizes artificial teeth (dentures) or crowns (caps) as permanent replacements for missing or extracted teeth. Furthermore, some prosthodontists address and rehabilitate deformities of the head and neck, replacing any missing parts of the face and jaw with artificial substitutes.
6. Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist
An oral and maxillofacial radiologist specializes in taking and interpreting x-ray images and any other data collected in the diagnosis and management of diseases and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region (face, mouth, and jaws).
7. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon performs multiple types of operational procedures involving the face, mouth, and jaw area. This dental expert treats people who experienced facial injuries, offering reconstructive surgery and implant dentistry. Likewise, this specialist may work with patients who have tumors, masses, and cysts within the jaws.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons receive anywhere between four to eight years of additional training after dental school. The types of dental surgeries they may perform include:
- Tooth extractions
- Implant positioning
- Soft tissue biopsies
- Removal of tumors in the oral cavity
- Complex jaw realignment surgeries
- Fractured cheek or jaw bone repair
8. Pediatric Dentist or Pedodontist
Being a pedodontist entails diagnosing and treating the dental problems of children. This dentist can identify and address the onset of decay, crowding, crookedness, falling teeth, and other oral health problems. Pediatric dentists encourage parents to schedule their child’s first dental appointment as soon as the first tooth erupts.
If you are concerned about a pediatric dentist’s qualifications, know that this professional has at least two additional years of rigorous training beyond dental school. The training focuses on the treatment and management of a child’s developing teeth, their individual behaviors, physical growth and development, and the specific demands of children’s dentistry.
9. Dental Hygienist
According to the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA), a dental hygienist is an oral health professional who holds the responsibility of preventing and treating oral diseases. A dental hygienist cleans teeth, checks the mouth for signs of oral diseases, and performs other preventive dental care. Educating patients on how to improve and maintain good oral health is also an integral part of their job.
Regardless of the state in which this professional practices, all dental hygienists must be state licensed. And not to be confused with dental assistants, whose work generally requires the direct supervision of a licensed dentist, dental hygienists perform much of their duties independently.
10. Dental Assistant
Do not let the word “assistant” deceive you. A dental assistant significantly increases a dentist’s efficiency in providing top-quality oral health care. As a valuable member of the dental care team, an assistant gives patient care and chair-side support as a dentist completes a check-up or procedure. Examples of technical duties may include assisting with dental fillings, extractions, and implant placement. Extended function assistants can place fillings, take final impressions and cement crowns as well.
A Team Approach at Cunning Dental Group
Using a team approach to dentistry fosters continuity of care that is comprehensive, organized, efficient, and cost-effective. Here at Cunning Dental, our general dentists, oral surgeons, clinical assistants, and other members of the team strive to provide exactly that.
During a comprehensive exam at any of our locations, our dental specialists in California will examine your mouth for infections, swollen areas, lumps, ulcerations, and other abnormalities. Our areas of care include not only your teeth and gums, but also your salivary glands, tongue, and delicate muscles of the head, neck, and jaw. Call (855) 328-6646 now or complete our form to schedule an appointment.