For some, needing to visit the dentist to take care of a dental issue can be stressful from the start, but figuring out which dental specialist is the right choice to treat your ailment can delay many patients from making the call for dental help. Good thing that many general dental practices offer much more than just standard check-ups, cleanings and cavity fillings. There are nine recognized dental specialties in which many dentists choose to train/practice in addition to general dentistry.
If you are experiencing tooth pain, gum swelling or any other oral health issue, it is best to make an appointment to see your dentist immediately since he or she is trained to manage your overall oral health. Many ailments can be easily treated when diagnosed early and your dentist can most likely provide the proper therapy. If the ailment requires advanced treatment and your preferred family dental practice doesn’t provide treatment for such issues, they will most likely recommend that you see a dental specialist. Have the dentist explain your diagnosis to you and ask if he or she can refer you to an appropriate and respected specialist.
Although many dental practices provide both general and cosmetic dentistry services, at some point in your lifetime you may need to see an oral health care specialist for advanced treatment. Here’s an easy guide to help you determine which one may be right for you.
Endodontics – An endodontist is trained in the dental specialty that addresses the cause, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of the dental pulp. The dental pulp is located in the center canal of the tooth, beneath the layers of enamel and dentin. The most common procedure performed by these specialists is root canal therapy. Since the dental pulp contains nerves, tissue and blood vessels, a patient may experience pain, sensitivity to hot/cold, inflammation of surrounding gum tissue or other symptoms once advanced decay has allowed bacteria and infection to reach the pulp. A root canal can restore the tooth’s health.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery – An oral and maxillofacial specialist is trained in pathology, radiology or surgery for treatment of multiple diseases, injuries and defects in and about the entire face, mouth and jaw area, including complex jaw/bite misalignment, cleft lip or palate and ankyloglossia (caused by an unusually short membrane connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth).
Orthodontics – An orthodontist is trained in the dental specialty that addresses the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of flawed bites and surrounding structures resulting from over-crowding of teeth, missing teeth or jaws that are simply out of alignment. An orthodontist is trained in the procedures involved with straightening teeth via the use of braces and other corrective dental appliances. Most orthodontic specialists will treat an array of dental displacement issues and will treat children and adults alike.
Periodontics – A periodontist is trained in the study of the structures that support the teeth (connective tissue, gums and bone), as well as the diseases and conditions that affect them. Most commonly, a periodontist will diagnose and treat gingivitis and periodontitis (diseases of the gum and bone) and provide additional periodontal care by performing such procedures as deep cleanings, root planing, bone grafting and flap procedures.
Prosthodontics – A prosthodontist is trained in the dental specialty that addresses the restoration of natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth on a grander scale than a general dentist. This specialist will generally be recommended for large scale or complex tooth replacement using dentures, crowns, dental implants or other restorative measures. Many prosthodontists work closely with oral and maxillofacial specialists when treating accident victims and patients with head, neck and facial deformities.
For more information about general, cosmetic and specialized dentistry services, contact Gentle Dental in Queens at 718-461-0100.