If you’ve ever needed a dentist for a particular or unique procedure, you’ve probably found a dental specialist and wondered, “What kind of dentist do I need to go to? Is this the right one?” In every field jobs are becoming more and more specialized with even more highly trained dental specialists. While this reality has good and bad elements, it can be beneficial for a patient to see a dental specialist who will address his or her specific need. But which one is the right one? Keep reading and find out!
Discovering what dental specialist you should go to requires knowing what all the different types of dentists are and what exactly they do. Now if your dental needs fall in the category of oral exams, cleanings, basic x-rays, fillings and crowns, then a “general dentist” should, in most cases, serve you well. Some general dental offices have “in-house” specialists and some general dentists do specialty procedures at a lower price than the dental specialist. You’ll just want to check with your dentist ahead of time to find out exactly what you’re looking at paying. However, when your general dentist doesn’t have an in-house dental specialist or your need is not among those they provide, you’ll probably need to go to an endodontist, periodontist, orthodontist, oral surgeon or prosthodontist.
If you need a root canal that is not provided at your general office, or you have an issue with the nerves in your teeth, the dental specialist for you is an endodontist. An endodontist is a dental specialist who handles the tooth interior and also treat disease issues within the teeth. Your regular dentist might refer you to this type of specialist, if you have a root canal that will be difficult or if it has any type of anomaly that this type of dentist might be more comfortable handling.
A scaling or a deep cleaning is also typically done by a dental specialist. This type of procedure typically requires a periodontist. As opposed to your typical tooth cleaning, a deep cleaning or scaling may be required before you are able to receive standard cleanings. This will sometimes happen if one has gone a long time without visiting the dentist and the bacteria build up is too extensive for a general dentist to treat.
Also, an orthodontist is a dental specialist who primarily works with straightening and aligning teeth. The orthodontist will also treat jaw and teeth irregularities. If your kids need braces or a retainer then you will most likely be visiting the orthodontist.
Tooth extractions are often done at a general dentist provided that it doesn’t require oral surgery to cut them out. However, many times when there is an impacted tooth or decay, the procedure will require the attention of an oral surgeon. This type of dental specialist is sometimes called maxillofacial surgeons. They are trained to treat and diagnose injuries and diseases of the mouth and jaw, teeth and gums. They will perform wisdom tooth extractions, deal with facial problems and facial pain, treat TMJ, tumors, etc. Dental implants are also commonly done in this field of expertise as well.
Finally, the dental specialist in charge of partial or full dentures is referred to as a prosthodontist. The prosthodontists are specialized in replacing missing teeth and restoring natural teeth as well. Prosthodontists work on a range of things from dentures and partials to veneers, some implants and fixed bridges. In many cases you can get these procedures done with a general dentist, but sometimes you will need to go to the prosthodontist.
This is certainly not a comprehensive study of all these dental specialists, but it is a general overview to give you an idea of where to get a unique or specific procedure. Hopefully this breakdown can get you looking in the right direction and begin to clear up some of the confusion about what kind of dental specialist you might need to see.