Dentistry is more than just basic oral care. There are cases of tooth loss, tooth fracture, tooth decay, and many other serious tooth troubles that need to be taken care of. To this end, there are many branches of dentistry focusing on a specific niche in the practice.
Four years of post-grad dental school equips the person with a dental degree enabling them to practice general dentistry. However, if they plan to focus on a particular area, they would have to obtain roughly two to six more years of education. While the general practitioners of dentistry do have a wide array of knowledge in all the areas of dentistry, gaining specialty helps them focus solely on one area in the field of dentistry.
When the general dentist encounters a problem that goes beyond their area of general expertise and requires specialized skills, they refer their patients to one of the specialists as they are more knowledgeable about that niche.
Given below is a breakdown of the seven dental specialists and their field of expertise.
When you need a root canal, you will be referred to an endodontist. An endodontist is one who has undergone specialized training in root canal therapy. However, they do not just perform root canal treatments. This branch of dentistry deals with the morphology, physiology, and pathology of the dental pulp and periradicular tissues, the prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp as well as the tissues that surround a tooth. Hence, endodontics is concerned with the study and practice of the clinical sciences, including the biology, etiology, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries associated with the pulp and periradicular tissues.
Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeon
These individuals are orthopedic facial surgeons, who are responsible for treating a wide range of dental problems that include the removal of the impacted teeth and reconstructive facial surgery. This dental specialty also encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, injuries, and defects of the functional and aesthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. These surgeons are also trained to place dental implants, remove tumors in the facial area, and perform facial reconstructive and cosmetic surgery in case of a traumatic accident.
Dentists practicing this branch of dentistry specialize in the development, prevention, and correction of irregularities of the teeth, jaws, and bite, also known as malocclusions. Malocclusions is a result of crowded, missing, or extra teeth, or jaws that are out of alignment. An orthodontist straightens teeth by moving them by the use of bands, wires, braces, and other fixed or removable corrective appliances or retainers. You will be referred to an orthodontist by your general dentist if you wish to fix any facial abnormalities, disorders of the jaw, or improve your bite.
Any gum related diseases, guided bone regeneration, and dental implants, you will most likely be referred to a periodontist. Periodontists deal with the health of the structures around the tooth, the gums, and bone. They diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases of the soft tissues and the supporting structures of the teeth. They are also trained to treat gingivitis, and perform functions like deep pocket cleaning, root planing, crown lengthening procedures, soft tissue removal or re-contouring, and gingival or flap procedures.
Formerly known as pedodontics, they specialize in providing dental care for children through adolescence. They are trained to detect and treat decayed, missing, crowded, or crooked teeth. Their additional training in med school equips them to deal with the diagnosis, management and treatment of a child’s developing teeth, physical growth and development, and the special needs of child dentistry. They are also trained in child behavior where they understand the importance of calming down anxious kids and soothe-talking in the language that they understand.
This branch deals with the repair of natural teeth and the replacement of the missing teeth on a much larger scale than a general dentist. They replace the missing teeth by way of dentures, gold crowns, ceramic crowns, or dental implants. This is the branch of dentistry that specializes in understanding the dynamics of the smile, creating tooth replacements like crowns, bridges, partial dentures and dentures, and preserving a healthy mouth. Their training makes them experts in post oral cancer reconstruction, traumatic injuries of the mouth, jaw joint problems, and sleeping disorders.
An oral pathologist specializes in the study of the cause of the diseases that alter or affect the teeth, lips, jaws, cheeks, and other parts of the face and neck. If your general dentist suspects something more serious going on with your mouth, they will send out the radiographs, biopsy of the suspected tissue, or lesion to the oral pathologist, who examines and provides a diagnosis.
Ensure that you make regular visits to your dentist. This way, if there are any deeper issues with your oral health, it can be detected early on and your dentist can refer you to the appropriate dental specialist.
For those in the Princeton, NJ area, there are highly skilled dentists who are trained and licensed, and focus solely on their area of practice, resulting in their patients getting the best dental care.