6 Types of Dental Specialists
There are 9 board-certified dental specialists. Although, only 6 of those specialists provide individual patient care. Depending on needs, you’ll either visit a periodontist, prosthodontist, endodontist, oral surgeon, orthodontist, or pediatric dentist.
Family dentists and general dentists offer many of the same services as dental specialists but do not focus on just one area of dentistry. Instead, they offer services in all fields of dentistry, including restorative, cosmetic, and pediatric dental treatments.
Periodontists — Gum Disease Experts
Periodontal disease is the most severe form of gum disease. Gingivitis, on the other hand, is the mildest form of gum disease. If you develop one of these diseases, your dentist will probably recommend visiting a periodontist for more intensive treatment. This is because periodontists are gum disease specialists. They also treat both of these conditions in people of all ages.
Periodontists also specialize in dental implant procedures, which are artificial teeth. In particular, when a tooth is lost due to periodontal disease, also referred to as periodontitis, an implant (artificial tooth root) is placed in the patient’s jawbone.
Periodontal procedures and treatments include, but are not limited to:
- Gingivitis Treatment
- Gum Surgery for Cosmetics
- Dental Implant Placement
- Periodontitis Treatment
- Scaling and Root Planing
- Bone Grafting
Prosthodontists — Dental Restoration & Tooth Replacement Experts
Prosthodontists specialize in restorative dentistry. More specifically, they specialize in tooth replacement procedures and the placement of dental restorations, such as implants, crowns, dentures, veneers, and bridges.
Common reasons patients need restorations or tooth replacements are due to tooth loss from severe tooth decay. Damaged teeth, cracked teeth, and discolored teeth are also candidates for dental restorations.
Prosthodontic procedures include, but are not limited to:
- Teeth Impressions and Casts
- Dental Crowns, including all-ceramic crowns, CAD-CAM systems, and full-cast crowns
- Partial or Complete Dentures
- Dental Bridges (FPDs)
- Dental Implant Restorations
- Bite Reconstruction
- Maxillofacial Prosthetics (teeth and other facial prosthetics)
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons — Minor & Invasive Oral Surgery Specialists
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in minor and invasive procedures involving the mouth, face, and jaw. For reference, “maxillofacial” refers to the face and jaw, while “oral” refers to the mouth. These dental specialists either have their own private practice, work at a local dentist’s office, or work at a hospital full-time.
Common oral and maxillofacial procedures include, but are not limited to:
- Tooth Extractions
- Facial Reconstruction
- Dental Implants
- Orthognathic Surgeries
- TMJ Disorder Surgery
- Cleft Lip and Palate Repair
- Wisdom Teeth Removal
- Biopsy of Oral Lesions
Endodontists — Root Canal & Dental Pulp Specialists
Endodontists treat oral health issues related to the dental pulp, which contains the tissues, blood vessels, and nerves surrounding teeth roots. They are also referred to as “root canal specialists” because they perform 25 root canals per week, on average. During root canal therapy, these dental specialists remove the infected dental pulp in the roots of teeth. Then they restore the teeth with dental crowns. General dentists also perform root canals, but not as often as endodontists do.
Common endodontic treatment options include, but are not limited to:
- Root Canal Therapy
- Procedures Related to the Dental Pulp
Orthodontics — Tooth & Jaw Misalignment Experts
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that focuses on treating misaligned teeth, crooked teeth, and jaw misalignment issues. In particular, orthodontists specialize in fixing bite issues, such as an overbite, underbite, or open bite, among others.
The most common orthodontic treatment is braces, typically for children and adolescents who have newly erupted permanent teeth. Clear aligners, also called invisible aligners, are also becoming increasingly popular in the U.S.
Conventional orthodontic treatments include, but are not limited to:
- Invisalign® or other clear aligner therapies
- Removable Space Maintainers
- Jaw Repositioning Appliances
Pediatric Dentists — Children & Adolescent Dental Specialists
Pediatric dentists are similar to general dentists because they offer a wide range of dental services and treatment options. However, pediatric dentists specialize in treating babies, children, and adolescents, rather than adults. They also offer specialized treatment for sick or disabled children.
So, after a patient turns 18 years old, they will no longer receive treatment from a pediatric dentist. Instead, a family dentist or general dentist will begin treating them.
Common pediatric dental treatments and procedures include, but are not limited to: