When people think of a dentist, they generally think of the individual they go to in order to have their teeth cleaned. Many individuals work in this field, however, and specialize in different areas. In the event the dentist cannot handle a task, as he or she feels it goes beyond their knowledge and skill level, they often refer patients to one of these individuals. Following are some professionals in the field a person may see to obtain the best oral care possible.
Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeons
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons spend years training to operate on the mouth, face, and jaws. They attend dental school alongside other individuals working in the dental field, then continue on to complete anywhere from four to seven years of surgical and medical training in a hospital. Once this training is complete, they possess the skills and knowledge needed to perform all types of surgeries that involve the soft tissues and bones of the mouth, face and neck. The oral and maxillofacial surgeon may diagnose and remove tumors, align the jaws, or reconstruct the face and jaw following a trauma or cancer surgery. Furthermore, some patients find they need to see this specialist to have a tooth removed, depending on the complexity of the extraction.
Periodontists focus on gum disease, oral inflammation, and the placement of dental implants, undergoing several years of training in these areas. To work as a periodontist, an individual must complete three years beyond their dental school training and stay informed on the latest techniques for treating patients. In addition, they train to perform cosmetic periodontal procedures. Many individuals receive treatment from their general dentist for these issues, yet severe gum disease requires a visit to this specialist, and the same is true for those who have complex medical issues. Periodontists perform many procedures, including root planing and scaling, and can perform surgery on the gums when needed.
When a dentist believes a patient is suffering from a disease or destructive process, one that may involve the nerves of the teeth, he or she recommends a patient visit an endodontist. The goal of this professional is to save the tooth whenever possible, and he or she undergoes an additional two years of training upon completion of dental school. The endodontist diagnoses and treats pain in the teeth, performs root canals, and handles other procedures involving the interior of the tooth. Advanced technology may be used to save the tooth, including digital imaging and operating microscopes, as this allows for quicker treatment that is more comfortable. A general dentist can perform a root canal and other procedures in an effort to save a tooth, yet there may be times when additional help is needed, and this is where the endodontist comes in.
Pediatric dentists also undergo additional training, attending school a minimum of two years longer than a general dentist. The training emphasizes the management and treatment of teeth as they develop, along with the physical growth and development of children and their behavior. Although all dentists have the skills needed to treat a child’s teeth, the pediatric dentist is focused on the care of the child and ensuring he or she remains at ease throughout the treatment process. In addition, pediatric dentists are often called on to treat adults with special needs, those who have yet to advance mentally, physically, or emotionally past the childhood years, even if their chronological age means they are legally an adult. The dentist works with the parent or caregiver to ensure they understand how to help the child care for their teeth and encourage good oral care habits at all times.
Many aren’t aware of this, but orthodontics was the original dental specialty. The orthodontist continues his or her training following dental school, taking a minimum of two to three years of additional schooling to learn how to care for problems with the teeth, jaw, and mouth. In addition to straightening a patient’s teeth, the orthodontist also focuses on alignment of the jaw, overcrowding of teeth, and more. The Internet has recently offered numerous suggestions for straightening teeth at home, yet this can be dangerous. It’s best to speak to a specialist, as trying this at home may lead to the permanent loss of one or more teeth. Thanks to numerous treatment options now offered, including aligners and retainers, anyone can have the smile they dream of with the help of this dental professional.
In the event a specialist is needed, it’s best to speak to your general dentist to determine who they recommend. Many dental practitioners now share office space to better meet the needs of their clients. When you visit our practice, you’ll find you have access to these professionals and more. Our goal is to meet your oral care needs in every way. Give us a call to set up your first appointment. We can’t wait to meet you to learn about your dental goals and how we can be of help in achieving them.