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Which type of dental specialist do you need?

It may have occurred to you that when you visit the dentist he may have referred you to a dental specialist.  What’s the deal with all of these different types of dentists? How do you know what it all means and who you should visit? Not to worry, we’re here to help make sense of the different types of dentists and what it means for you as a patient.

 

 General Dentistry 

These types of dentists are considered general dentists and are your primary provider who treats your overall oral health care needs. This includes diagnosing and treating problems such as gum disease, cavities, root canals, crowns, and bridges as well as preventative care, hopefully allowing you to avoid the need for our next types of dentists – the dental specialists.

Dental Specialists

Sometimes your oral health needs may require your general dentist to refer you to a dental specialist who has focused his career on a specific side of dentistry. Here are the most common types of dental specialists.  

 

Orthodontist 

A patient is referred to an orthodontist when a general dentist notices misalignments with the jaw and/or teeth of both children and adults. If there are extra teeth, missing teeth, or teeth are crowded, an orthodontist will treat the patient with solutions like braces, Invisalign, and/or retainers. Don’t be surprised if your child is referred to an orthodontist as early as the age of seven.

 

Pediatric Dentist 

The types of dentists who work exclusively with children are called pediatric dentists or pedodontists.  Much of their additional training focuses on building a positive association between children and their dentist and is based in child psychology. They work with children to build a baseline for good oral health care and many work with patients who have special needs.

Group of Smiling Kids - Types of Dentists

Oral Surgeon 

An oral surgeon specializes in the surgical treatment of disease, injuries and esthetic or functional areas of the mouth. They are the ones who remove wisdom teeth, handle dental implants, and biopsy suspicious spots in the mouth. They also have additional training in anesthesia to ensure the comfort of the patient when surgery is required.

 

Endodontist 

These dental specialists have received training to help patients address tooth pain while saving their natural teeth by performing root canal treatment – a procedure that treats the infected tissues within a tooth. In fact, the word “endodontic” comes from the Greek word “endo” meaning “inside” and “odont” meaning tooth!

 

Periodontist 

A periodontist is a dental specialist that focuses on caring for your gums and the supporting tissues and structure around your teeth. In most cases, a referral to a periodontist is made to help patients treat advanced periodontal (gum) disease. They also are trained to place dental implants.  

 

Prosthodontist 

This dental specialist focuses on helping patients restore and/or replace lost or damaged teeth. Their goal is to look at all of the elements related to helping a patient achieve a functional, natural looking smile. Some of the treatment they perform can include dental implants, bridges & dentures.

While it may seem like an inconvenience to visit a dental specialist, it is in your best interest to do so when referred. Just like you wouldn’t visit your primary care physician for knee replacement surgery, a specialist has the additional training and experience to provide you with specialized treatment to help you achieve optimal oral health.

So there you have it, the types of dentists explained. Remember, your general dentist will always be your primary point of contact to help you with your oral health care needs. Do you need a new general dentist? Think you need a referral to a dental specialist? Find a Top Dental office near you  or please contact us online or by telephone for more information. We will be waiting for you!


Dr. Armellini received her dental degree from the Central University of Venezuela. She received an MBA from the University of Michigan and embarked on a clinical fellowship in Implantology Prosthodontics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

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