Dentist Definitions

AnnC

Ann Clark, RDH

Dentist Definitions

There are a lot of dental options out there from General to specialists.  The following is a break down of all your caped crusaders.
GENERAL DENTIST-
     This is your primary care provider. They provide regular cleanings and check ups.  This dentist can diagnose, treat and manage your overall dental needs,  including gum care, fillings, root canals, implants, extractions, crowns, veneers, bridges and preventative education.  These dentists have either a DDS, Doctor of Dental Surgery, or DMD, Doctor of Dental Medicine.  There is no difference between the two degrees or the ciriculum requirements.  It’s strictly how the schools award the degree.  Dentists study 3 years or more of undergraduate school plus 4 additional years of dental school. Additional post-graduate training is needed to specialize.
ENDODONTIST-
     This dentist is a specialist concerned with causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of disease and injury of the dental pulp  (the nerve of the tooth).  This  specialist can perform all types of root canal treatments and other surgical root procedures.
ORAL and MAXILLOFACIAL RADIOLOGIST-
     This specialist focuses on taking and interpreting all X-ray images and data used to diagnose and manage  disease, disorder and conditions to the oral and maxillofacial area.  These dentist are usually associated with the schools.
ORAL PATHOLOGIST-
     This specialist studies the cause of diseases that alter or affect the oral structures ( jaw, teeth, tissues) and  the face and neck.  They examine and diagnose biopsy, tissue or lesions referred to them from other providers.
ORAL AND MAXILLOFACIAL SURGEON-
     The doctors perform many types of surgical procedures on and in the entire face, including the jaw. They treat accident victims who suffer from injury and reconstruct and offer implant surgery. They also treat tumors and cysts in the jaw.  They preform simple tooth extractions, complex extractions, impacted teeth (wisdom teeth), soft tissue biopsies, removal of tumors in the mouth, implant positioning, jaw realignment surgeries, involving facial or bite discrepancies, fractured cheek or jaw bone repair and soft tissue (cleft lip/palate- bone repair) surgeries.  These specialists receive anywhere from 4-8 years of additional training after dental school.
ORTHODONTIST-
     This specialist focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and  treatment of malocclusions or “bad bites” of the teeth and surrounding structures.  Poor bites can result from crowding, missing or extra teeth or jaws that are out of alignment.  They can straighten teeth by moving them through bone by use of braces, band, wires and other fixed or removable  corrective appliances or retainer (invisalign).
PEDODONTIST-
     This dentist specializes in the care of children from the age of 1 to early adulthood.  They detect, treat, and diagnose problems with decay, missing or extra, and crowding.  This dentist has at least 2 additional years of training after dental school.  This training focuses on the management and treatment of a child’s developing teeth, child behavior, physical growth and development, and the special needs of children’s dentistry.
PERIODONTIST-
     a Periodontist is the oral health care specialist who diagnoses, treats, and prevents disease of the soft tissues of the mouth and supporting structures (bone) of the teeth,including implants (gum doctor). They treat gingivitis (inflammation) and periodontal disease ( gum and bone).  These doctors perform simple and deep pocket cleanings, crown lengthening, soft tissue and or bone grafting, gingival or flap surgeries, soft tissue recontouring or removal, hard tissue recontouring (osteoplasty), and implant placements.
PROSTHODONTIST-
     These specialist provide services for the repair of natural teeth and/or replacement of missing teeth on a grander scale then a general dentist.  They deal with artificial teeth (dentures), crowns to replace missing or extracted teeth.  They are also involved in the replacement of teeth using implants.  Specially trained prosthodontists work with patients with head and neck deformities, replacing missing areas of the facee and jaw with artificial substitutes.
American Dental Association: “Dental Specialties”
Michigan Dental Association: What Are the Dental Specialties?”
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