Your tooth has been aching for days, and nothing seems to help take the pain away. It’s time to go to the dentist — but with several different types of dental specialists, do you know which one is right for you?
The answer depends on what type of care or treatment you are looking for. General or family dentist can usually treat a common toothache, but if the cause is more severe, they may refer you to a specialist.
Read below to find out more about the several different types of dental specialists.
General or Family Dentist.
A general or family dentist provides general dental services to patients and families. A general dentist may also perform a certain number of dental procedures beyond routine dental care, such as tooth extractions or simple root canals.
Patients should see a general or family dentist at least twice a year.
Pedodontist or Pediatric Dentist.
A pedodontist or pediatric dentist specializes in treating the teeth and gums of toddlers, adolescents and young adults. The pedodontist may perform all the activities of a dentist such as filling cavities, extracting teeth, and diagnosing dental disease, but with a special focus on performing these treatments in the smaller mouths of younger patients. A pedodontist is also important in the early education of younger patients regarding lifetime oral wellness and proper dental hygiene techniques.
Parents should schedule the first pedodontist appointment as soon as their child’s baby teeth appear, or by the child’s first birthday.
A cosmetic dentist specializes in performing dental procedures to improve the appearance of the mouth. Cosmetic dentist may also be responsible for restoring the mouth’s appearance after an injury or accident.
Patients seeking procedures such as teeth whitening or veneers should consult a cosmetic dentist.
A periodontist specializes in treating diseases of the gums, jawbones and soft tissues. Patients who suffer from periodontal disease, inflammation or bone loss, persistent bad breath, or other gum conditions may need to visit a periodontist. A periodontist may also perform certain reconstructive cosmetic procedures.
Dentists often refer patients to a periodontist if they have severe gum disease or a disease which may make them prone to gum problems, such as diabetes.
An endodontist specializes in root canals and other treatments which involve the inside of the tooth, known as the pulp. An endodontist may use technologies such as digital imaging and ultrasonic equipment while diagnosing and treating dental problems. In order to preserve as much of the tooth structure as possible, the endodontist will remove any inflamed or infected pulp in your tooth which may be causing pain. An endodontist may also treat facial trauma.
An orthodontist specializes in straightening and aligning the teeth and jaw. Conditions such as a crowded mouth, crooked teeth, or an underbite/overbite/crossbite may require the expertise of an orthodontist. The orthodontist uses braces, retainers and other dental appliances to apply pressure and align the teeth.
A prosthodontist specializes in installing full or partial dentures, dental crowns, dental implants or dental bridges to replace missing teeth. The cases seen by a prosthodontist are usually complex and may involve several missing teeth or damage to the jaw bone. The prosthodontist installs artificial teeth in place of any missing or diseased original teeth in the patient’s mouth.
An oral surgeon performs oral surgery on the mouth, jaws, or other related areas of the head and neck. A dentist or doctor may refer a patient to an oral surgeon for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, to repair broken bones in the face or jaw, to fix birth defects of the face or mouth, or surgery to repair damage caused by oral cancer. Oral surgeons often work with other dental specialists on reconstructive procedures.