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different types of dentists

What are the different types of dentists?

When you are feeling sick and do not know what is wrong, typically your first call is your General Practitioner. You know that this doctor can more than likely diagnose and treat whatever may be wrong. Though in some cases, they may need to refer out to a specialist and then follow up with you after your additional treatment needs. Dentistry is the same way. 

You want to have a general dentist that you see for cleanings as well as your overall oral health care provider. Some general dentists do more than cleanings, like Southview, but sometimes they must refer you to a specialist. But what are those different types of dentists? 

Check out the six most common different types of dentists:

General Dentist

A general dentist is the primary care for your dental needs.. This dentist diagnoses, treats, and manages your general oral health care needs, such as gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, preventive care and cosmetic needs.

Most often, your general dentist will provide the following services:

  • Preventive Services: These services include regular examinations, x-rays and professional teeth cleanings. Preventative care also includes education to help you practice better oral health habits. 
  • Restorative Services: These services are provided when an issue is found and your dentist makes sure you are provided the proper treatment to correct the problem. This could mean fixing a broken tooth or filling a cavity. 
  • Cosmetic Procedures: The most common cosmetic procedures include teeth whitening, veneers and crowns and straightening teeth. 

Pediatric Dentist

A pediatric dentist specializes in the dental needs of growing children. While you can often bring your entire family to your general dentist, there is the option to take your children to a practice that solely specializes in treating children.

This is a partial list of the kind of services provided by pediatric dentists.

  • Oral exams for infants and coaching parents on what to expect.
  • Teaching kids healthy oral hygiene habits and techniques.
  • Teaching kids and parents what to expect at every phase of growth.
  • Administering age-appropriate preventative dental health treatments like fluoride treatment and professional cleanings.
  • Advising parents on when to introduce new habits like use of fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and when a child may brush their own teeth,
  • Early identification of the need for orthodontics.
  • Treatment of cavities.
  • Treatment for any dental injuries from sports or other trauma and advice on how to prevent dental trauma.
  • Age appropriate examinations and treatment that factor in any health diagnosis from the child’s pediatrician.

Pro Tips on Preparing Children For a Dental Visit

As a parent, you set the scene for whether your child looks forward to or dreads their first dental visit. Take time to talk with them about why they need to see a dentist and what to expect. Be positive, honest, but try to avoid frightening the child.

Get a copy of your child’s medical records to share with the dentist. Sometimes things that you may not think are important might help the dentist know what areas need special attention. Also discuss any concerns you have as a parent, after all, you have access to an expert who can answer those questions! Often parents look forward to pediatric dental visits even more than the child.

Finally, your dentist will recommend an examination, cleaning, and treatment schedule that is appropriate for your child’s stage of development.

Orthodontist

An orthodontist is your oral healthcare provider that specializes in diagnosis, prevention, interception, and treatment of malocclusions, or “bad bites,” of their teeth and surrounding structures. This specialist is responsible for misaligned teeth by moving them by the use of bands, wires, braces, and other removable or fixed corrective appliances or retainers. This specialist treats kids as well as adults who might desire to improve their smile and function.

While an orthodontist is responsible for treating misaligned teeth, keep in mind there are teeth straightening options beyond traditional braces. If you want to avoid braces, Invisalign might be for you. Your general dentist may be able to help you with this service, like Dr. Kelly can at Southview Dentistry.  As with all dental work, it is important to consult your general dentist, understand all the options available and to choose the perfect one for you.

Endodontist 

If root canal treatment is what you are in need of, an endodontist is a specialist who your general dentist may refer you to. While general dentist may also perform root canals, sometimes the individual situation requires a specialist to weigh in as well. These dental professionals have undergone extensive specialized training specifically in this field of dentistry. They have vast knowledge when it comes to the morphology, physiology, and pathology of the dental pulp, as well as the periradicular tissues.

Periodontist

A periodontist is the oral health care provider who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases of the soft tissues of their mouth and the supporting structures of their teeth. This dentist diagnoses and treats gingivitis in addition to periodontitis disease. A periodontist may perform the following procedures: 

  • Periodontal treatments including scaling of deep pockets 
  • Root planing
  • Crown lengthening
  • Implant placement
  • Work closely with your general dentist for cosmetic cases

Cosmetic Dentist

While not a specialist, Cosmetic dentist spend time outside of dental school training in the cosmetic field.  Both Drs Kelly and Micheal of Southview Dentistry immerse themselves in continuing education with a focus on cosmetic dentistry.  If your teeth are badly stained, discolored, chipped, worn, broken, misaligned, misshapen, or have gaps between them, modern cosmetic dentistry may be what you need to improve both your smile and confidence. A “whole-mouth makeover” improves the overall look of your smile through a combination of cosmetic treatments recommended by your dentist. Cosmetic dentists work with you to develop an individualized treatment program and most commonly whiten teeth and provide veneer and crown services. At Southview Dentistry, we take pride in being able to treat all your cosmetic needs.

How do I know which of the different types of dentists I need?

Your general dentist will refer you to a specialist when that need arises.

It’s important to see your general dentist at least twice each year — not only for teeth cleaning, but for an examination that ensures your oral wellbeing. Obtaining a professional opinion will help you handle any possible problems before they become important.