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Common Types of Dentistry

The type of dentist a person needs to visit depends on their age and their oral health condition.

The most common types of dentists include:

  • General dentist
  • Family dentist
  • Cosmetic dentist
  • Pediatric dentist
  • Orthodontist
  • Specialty dentist

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.3

General dentists work 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
  • 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 extra training after dental school to become certified.

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

Common cosmetic procedures and treatments include:

Braces are not strictly cosmetic. They create cosmetic results but have many functions as well.

These functions include fixing jaw misalignment and crooked teeth. These functions make the teeth easier to brush and floss between, improving a patient's oral hygiene.

6 Types of Dental Specialists

There are nine board-certified dental specialties. However, only six focus on individual patient care.

General and family dentists provide a wide array of services.

Dental specialists are experts in one field of dentistry:

1. Periodontists

This field of dentistry deals with the periodontium. This includes 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 teeth that are:

  • Missing
  • Decayed teeth
  • Damaged teeth

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 the following:

  • Accidental injury
  • Trauma
  • Disease
  • Deformities
  • Periodontal issues
  • Dental caries
  • Tooth loss

4. Endodontists

Endodontists deal with the dental pulp and periradicular tissues.

Periradiciular tissues are the blood vessels, tissues, and nerves surrounding a tooth’s root.

Endodontists are highly trained in performing root canals and surgeries for dental pulp diseases.

General dentists perform two root canals per week. Endodontists perform 25 per week, on average.4

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.

They also treat young patients with physical or mental challenges.

These dental practitioners provide both comprehensive dental treatments and preventive therapies. For example, tooth sealants and fluoride treatment.

Last updated on April 20, 2022
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on April 20, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Syrbu, John DDS. The Complete Pre-Dental Guide to Modern Dentistry. 2013.
  2. Blue Ocean Publishing Group. The Million Dollar Smile, Changing Lives with Cosmetic Dentistry. 2018.
  3. Why be a dentist?, American Dental Education Association (ADEA)
  4. What’s the difference between a dentist and an endodontist?, American Association of Endodontists (AAE)
  5. John, Mike T et al. “Why Patients Visit Dentists - A Study in all World Health Organization Regions.” The journal of evidence-based dental practice vol. 20,3 : 101459
  6. Thomson, W M et al. “Long-term dental visiting patterns and adult oral health.” Journal of dental research vol. 89,3 : 307-11
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