Sometimes our smiles need a little more care than the standard exam, cleaning or occasional filling. Due to issues with your overall health, heredity, an accident, or some other reason, you may need to visit a dental specialist. Dental specialists are dentists who receive additional, specialized training after dental school. It’s no different than a medical doctor who receives additional training to become a radiologist or surgeon.
Here are six types of dental specialists you may see during a lifetime of oral care:
Endodontist: Root canal specialist
Inside our teeth are tiny cavern-like passages called canals that contain sensitive living tissue (pulp), blood vessels, and nerves. Endodontists specialize in diagnosing and treating issues within our tooth. For example, if your tooth’s pulp becomes infected you may need a root canal. If your dentist believes a root canal is necessary, they may recommend you visit an endodontist for treatment.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: Oral surgery specialist
This specialist focuses on treating problems related to the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth, and jaw. You don’t need an oral surgeon for every type of oral surgery. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in treatments that require complex procedures or deep levels of sedation – beyond nitrous oxide or laughing gas. In fact, oral surgeons are the only health care professionals besides anesthesiologists who can administer all levels of sedation. Procedures performed by oral surgeons include tooth extractions, corrective jaw surgery, and cleft lip or cleft palate surgery.
Orthodontist: Alignment specialist
Orthodontics is about correcting teeth and jaws that are out of position. You may see an orthodontist if your jaw isn’t aligned properly leading to an overbite, underbite or crossbite. You may see an orthodontist if your teeth are crooked or misaligned. In these situations, an orthodontist may use braces, clear aligners, palatal expanders, or headgear as part of your treatment plan. Your child’s pediatric dentist may recommend a consultation from an orthodontist. Whether you’re seeking orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child, be sure your plan covers it. Also, make sure your plan doesn’t require a referral from your primary care dentist.
Pediatric Dentist: Kid dental specialist
Pediatric dentists are to a child’s oral health like pediatricians are to their overall health. They’re dentists who specialize in the oral development and care of children from infancy through their teens. Pediatric dentists help your child stay on the path to a lifelong, healthy smile. They provide routine exams and cleanings, habit counseling (stop thumb sucking), fillings for cavities, and diagnosis of oral conditions associated with other diseases like childhood diabetes. Pediatric dentists monitor the development of your child’s smile and recommend specialists care when needed, like orthodontics.
Periodontist: Gum specialist
Periodontal dentistry focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that affect the gums, and other structures that support the teeth. Think of them as the gum disease experts of dentistry. Periodontists recognize and treat the early stages of gum disease, perform minor surgery to resolve severe gum disease, and restore the appearance of your smile. If you’re diagnosed with gum disease, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist.
Prosthodontist: Replacement specialist
Prosthodontists focus on restoring and replacing lost or damaged teeth. Prosthodontists have a unique understanding of everything that goes into a beautiful, functional, and natural-looking smile. Prosthodontists specialize in porcelain veneers, crowns, dental implants, fixed bridges, dentures, and reconstructive dentistry. If you need a dental treatment related to replacing or repairing teeth, your dentist may recommend you visit a prosthodontist.
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