What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about dentistry? For most people, it will bring up some mental images of someone cleaning their teeth or perhaps filling a cavity. Although those certainly are descriptive of someone who is called a dentist, it is really only one of the many different types of dentistry that exist. In fact, once you know the many different things that are possible with dentistry, you might never look at the practice the same way again.
The following 6 different types of dentistry will cover almost everyone who is involved in this practice. Along with the type of doctor, we will also provide a brief overview of what they do for the people under their care.
General Dentistry – This is likely what you think of when you think of a dentist. They provide dental services to people of all ages and you can typically find them practicing in your local area. Over 100,000 dentists are working in the United States.
A general dentist may help to support your general oral health through preventative services. These could include regular cleaning and x-rays. A general dentist may also perform cosmetic procedures, such as teeth whitening and restorative services, such as filling a cavity. This is the type of dentist that you will likely visit for any problems you may have. They may, however, refer you to one of the other types of dentists.
Oral Surgeon – These dentists also care for our oral health but they do so in a more specialized way. They must go through 4 years of dental school and then another 4 years in a residency program at the hospital. They are focused on treating the soft and hard tissues of the mouth, jaws, and face.
One of the more common procedures that are performed by an oral surgeon is to have teeth removed, such as your wisdom teeth. They may also do surgery on the jaw or on a cleft lip or palate. This type of dentist may also care for problems with obstructive sleep apnea.
Prosthodontics – This is a medical specialty associated with replacing or restoring missing teeth. They are trained specifically in this area and can really make a difference in your smile if you are having problems.
Some of the specific types of issues these dentists might be involved in include crowns, porcelain veneers, and implants. This may also be the type of dentist you visit if you are getting dentures.
Periodontal Dentist – This type of dentistry is also interested in making sure you have a nice smile but they do so by caring for your gums. They specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of issues that involve the gums and any of the underlying structures that affect the teeth. You will often be referred to a periodontal specialist by your general dentist if you are having problems.
Orthodontist – This is another type of oral specialist that is primarily focused on the correction of teeth and jaws. This would include problems when your teeth don’t close properly or if they are not quite as you would like them to be. They take the courses through a dental school and then go for additional training for a minimum of 2 years.
When most people think about an orthodontist, they think about braces. That is really only one of the different things they can do to correct crooked or imperfect teeth.
Endodontics – Many dentists will focus on what is showing on the outside of the teeth but a dentist that specializes in endodontics will look at what is under the surface. Among the different types of services they may provide are root canals. This is a common issue they treat but they may also help with other issues as well.
Most of us will only ever have to see a general dentist. They can often take care of some of the more problematic issues we may experience with our oral health. When necessary, however, they will recommend that you see a specialist and those doctors will be able to take care of what you need in a professional way.