9 Types of Dentists

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Medically Reviewed
by Dr. Lara Coseo
Alyssa Hill
Written by
Alyssa Hill
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Evidence Based
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3 sources cited
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Common Types of Dentistry

The type of dentist a person needs to visit depends on their age and the oral health condition they have. The most common types of dentistry include general dentistry, family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, and specialty dentistry.

To ensure you receive the proper care, read about the different types of dentists and the services they offer below:

General Dentistry

Eighty percent of dental practitioners are general dentists. They are concerned with the overall health of teeth and oral hygiene. Instead of specializing in one specific area, general dentists offer:

Family Dentistry

Similar to general dentistry, family dentistry focuses on the health and oral hygiene of teeth. Common procedures and treatments include cavity fillings, sealants, teeth cleanings, and gum disease treatment.

Family dentists treat people during every stage of life. This is because people require different dental care throughout life, depending on their age. For example, oral care for a baby or child is different from that of an adult:

Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry procedures improve a patient’s smile and self-confidence. Many general dentists perform cosmetic procedures. However, they must go through additional training after dental school to become certified.

Cosmetic dentistry is not a new practice. However, esthetic treatments are becoming more popular because having an attractive and healthy smile is important to many people.

Common cosmetic procedures and treatments include:

  • Teeth whitening treatment
  • Veneers
  • Gingivectomy (gum contouring)
  • Braces, which are not strictly cosmetic. They create cosmetic results but have many functional aspects as well. These functions include fixing jaw misalignment and crooked teeth, which makes the teeth easier to brush and floss between, ultimately improving a patient's oral hygiene.

6 Types of Dental Specialists

There are 9 board-certified dental specialties, but only six focus on individual patient care. General and family dentists provide a wide array of services, while dental specialists are experts in one field of dentistry:

1. Periodontists

This field of dentistry deals with the periodontium, which are the soft tissues that support and surround the teeth in the mandibular (lower) and maxillary (upper) jawbones.

Periodontists focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the supporting structures of teeth. These dental experts also specialize in the function, overall health, and aesthetics of tissue structure.

2. Prosthodontists

The primary role of a prosthodontist is to diagnose and restore missing or damaged oral tissues to proper function. They specialize in dental restorations, which restore missing teeth, decayed teeth, or damaged teeth. About 20 percent of a general dentist’s time is spent on prosthetic services.

3. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Oral surgeons specialize in treating the esthetic and functional features of the oral and maxillofacial region. Oral surgeries are typically needed because of accidental injury, trauma, disease, deformities, periodontal issues, dental caries, or tooth loss.

4. Endodontists

Endodontists deal with the dental pulp and periradicular tissues, which are the blood vessels, tissues, and nerves surrounding a tooth’s root.

They are highly trained in performing root canals and surgeries for dental pulp diseases. General dentists perform two root canals per week, while endodontists perform 25 per week (on average).

5. Orthodontics

Orthodontists specialize in malocclusion and teeth straightening. Malocclusions can lead to an improper bite, such as an overbite or underbite.

Orthodontists provide treatment that corrects an individual’s bite and realigns teeth over time.

Common orthodontic treatments include:

6. Pediatric Dentists

Pediatric dentists treat infants and children through adolescence. They also treat young patients with physical or mental challenges. These dental practitioners provide both comprehensive dental treatments and preventive therapies (such as tooth sealants and fluoride treatment).

Resources

Syrbu, John DDS. The Complete Pre-Dental Guide to Modern Dentistry. 2013.

“Endodontics Facts.” American Association of Endodontics. Web. Jan. 2012.

Blue Ocean Publishing Group. The Million Dollar Smile, Changing Lives with Cosmetic Dentistry. 2018.

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