What Are the Different Types of Dental Specialists?

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There are times when you need a tad more service than the standard dental exam, tooth removal, and whitening. Maybe you’re looking at a hereditary or accident-induced dental issue that your general dentist in Winchester may not solve, and they’ve already referred you to a specialist. That’s when you realize dentistry has several niches, and most of these professionals run independent clinics.

What Is Dentistry Specialization?

Generally speaking, dental specialists are healthcare providers who choose to specialize in treating gums, facial restoration, or oral surgery. They are similar to physicians who choose to pursue radiology or plastic surgery, and the goal is to move a rank higher than they were as general dentists. 

Dental school is a four-year program that ends in a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) degree. Then the graduates have to take their respective Dental State Board before touching any patients. After that, any general dentist who wishes to specialize gets a chance to go back to dental school. And the length of the training depends on the area of specialization.

9 Types of Dental Specialists

1. Periodontist

These specialists focus on diagnosing and treating tooth-supporting structures, including gums, jawbones, and the surrounding tissues. Most of their patients are accident victims, but they also get cancer patients and people with cognitive disabilities. It is also worth noting that this is one of the most popular specialization areas among general dentists.

2. Endodontist

An endodontist is a highly trained specialist dealing in treating, diagnosing, and preventing issues in tooth nerves. These are the guys who do complex root canals and a host of other nerve restoration procedures. An experienced endodontist can complete up to 25 root canals every week, while a general dentist is limited to just two root canals per week. That says a lot about the complexity of this procedure.

3. Orthodontist

These oral healthcare specialists treat, intercept, and prevent malocclusions (bad bites) in the teeth and the surrounding structure. In other words, orthodontists are responsible for transforming unattractive smiles into those that radiate.

Bad bites can result from misaligned jaws, missing teeth, and excess teeth. And the orthodontists use specialized bands, braces, and retainers to progressively align the teeth to an ideal bite.

4. Prosthodontist

These specialists design and make removable or permanent replacement teeth, including porcelain crowns, bridges, and dentures. General dentists are also equipped to do tooth replacements, but they lack the required skill set to handle complex cases.

Besides tooth replacement, these professionals also reconstruct jawbones for accident victims. After that, the patient can have plastic surgery to complete the reconstruction.

5. Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist

Oral and maxillofacial radiologists take and interpret X-rays and any other data collected from the diagnosis of face, nose, and mouth issues. And they usually work for other specialists or dental departments. However, a few of them run stand-alone operations then forge relationships with dental practices.

6. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in multiple surgeries of the face, mouth, and jaw area, including corrective surgery for accident patients. But they also reconstruct people with tumors, masses, and cysts within the jaws. These professionals get an additional eight years of training after dental school, so they are few and expensive.

7. Pediatric Dentist

Pediatric dentists specialize in diagnosing and treating dental problems in children. You can think of them as general dentists who work exclusively with kids, and they are equipped to address decay, crookedness, and other oral problems. 

Pediatric dentists urge people to bring their children to their offices immediately after the first tooth comes loose. That allows the professional to diagnose any potential problems and take preventive measures as soon as possible.

8. Dental Hygienist

These professionals are in charge of preventing and treating oral diseases. They clean teeth, check for oral infection, and educate parents on caring for their children’s teeth. However, these professionals are not to be confused with dentist assistants. They can run a stand-alone practice and seek a license to operate within the US.

9. Dental Assistant

Dentists’ assistants are like nurses. They help the healthcare professional complete their work and may also be tasked with simpler things such as tooth filling, extraction, and cleaning dentistry equipment. However, they may not be allowed to run a dentist’s office independently, but no practice can operate without them. In fact, every specialist on this list needs at least one dental assistant to start accepting patients.

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