To most people, a dentist is a doctor that specializes in the treatment of teeth and gum but only very few are aware that dentistry is subdivided into several areas. So, there are several types of dentists. Those whose dentists have had to refer them to another “dentist” already have an idea of this. Like all other areas of medicine, in British Columbia, dentists are regulated by the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia (CDSBC). As a dentist, to practice in British Columbia, you must choose a particular area of dentistry and be certified by the CDSBC. Here are different parts of dentistry that you should know about.
This is the area of dentistry that focuses on the pulp of the tooth. The pulp is the inner part of the tooth that is protected by the inner layer of dentin of the tooth and its hard enamel. It is usually found right below the gumline. It requires so much attention because it contains some sensitive, delicate and living tissues. The pulp is prone to inflammation and damage. It can also rot. Most issues with the pulp are usually caused by tooth decay or injury.
Endodontics is about treating the issues with your pulp while keeping the affected tooth alive in the patient’s mouth. However, if not, the pulp is replaced by an artificial and inert pulp. This procedure is known as root canal. Any dentist that specializes in Endodontics is an Endodontist.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery
There are numerous hard and soft tissues located in the mouth and all around it. Some of these tissues are facial tissues, tongue, soft palate, hard palate, lips, cheeks, and gums. This area of dentistry involves more invasive surgical procedures like creating a foundation for false teeth, corrections of jaw anomalies, and complex extraction of tooth. You need to understand that tooth extraction is much more than just the removal of a tooth. There are other issues involved.
Dentists that specialize in this area of dentistry are known as oral and maxillofacial surgeons. These surgeons also handle reconstructive surgeries, cleft lip surgery, cleft palate surgery, treatment of facial infections, extraction of cancerous tissue, treatment of sleep apnea, and many others. They also prepare the mouth for planting of false teeth, inserting supporting bones, and other cosmetic procedures.
This is the most popular area of dentistry. Doctors who specialize in this area are known as general dentist. They are more interested in the prevention of dental issues so they take proper care of your mouth. They also work as the family dentist as they are the ones you meet regularly. They only get to refer you to other dentists when your dental issue requires the input of a specialist.
While you visit them regularly, they also monitor the condition of your teeth, gum, pulp, and other parts of the mouth and if they see any sign of another dental issue, they nip it in the bud. They often guide you in the use of braces and false teeth. It is believed that all the other types of dentists passed through this stage before going further into a deeper area of dentistry. For instance, an endodontist was one a general dentist before specializing in endodontics.
This area of dentistry involves the replacement of missing, decayed, or damaged teeth. It includes the provision of veneers, dentures, bridges, crowns, and implant of teeth. All these are collectively known as oral prostheses. These procedures are for health reasons because they improve the ability to speak, bite, and chew food easily. They are also for cosmetic reasons because they improve the look of your smile.
The dentists who are specialists in this area are known as Prosthodontists. Because each of the oral appliances must be tailored to suit the patients they are made for, Prosthodontists usually work with dental labs.
This field involves the gradual correction of misaligned jaw bones, teeth, and other structures by creating corrective appliances like facemasks, retainers, headgear, mouth guards, and several types of braces. Just like prosthodontics, orthodontic procedures are carried out for health reasons and for aesthetics. The dentists that specialize in this field are known as orthodontists. The oral hardware helps to correct developmental issues.
While invasive surgeries offer instant correction, orthodontic provides a gradual one that sometimes takes years. This is because all the correctional oral devices can only correct dental deformities gradually.
This area of dentistry is all about the gum. It focuses on only the care of the gum. This includes the prevention of gum diseases, its diagnosis, and most of all, its treatment. Some common gum diseases are extreme gum diseases, gum inflammation, painful or swollen gum. The doctors that handle this area of dentistry are known as periodontists.
Periodontists do skin grafting on the gums, dental implants, and they often give professional advice on the prevention of gum diseases. However, there are mild gum diseases that a general dentist can handle. It is only when the issue becomes serious or gets to the extreme that a periodontist gets involved. Sometimes they also guide and advise general dentists on treatment plans for the gum.
This field is concerned with the study of different types of oral diseases to find their likely causes, how to prevent them, and most importantly, the best way to treat them. This field involves a lot of research. The specialists in this field are oral pathologists.
This area involves the use of imaging to detect the root of a particular dental issue and the imaging is sometimes used in the course of treatment of the some oral diseases. The medical practitioners that specialize in this field are known as oral radiologist.
This is an area of general dentistry that focuses on kids. Their functions are not really cut out like the other types of dentists. More so, every general dentist can handle pediatric dentistry.
In conclusion, even though you now know all the types of dentists, it is not advisable for you to meet any of them without passing through a general dentist. You should let your general dentist evaluate your situation and do the reference if necessary.