What is an Endodontist?
An endodontist is a dentist that focuses on the health of the nerves in your inner tooth, also known as your pulp. While all dentists are trained in endodontic therapy, in severe cases, a general dentist will refer you to an endodontic specialist. An endodontist goes through normal dental schooling and then two or more years of additional education. In this time, endodontists learn different root canal techniques and more.
Diagnoses and Treats:
Due to how the tooth is constructed, it can sometimes be hard to locate exactly where the pain is coming from in the tooth. As a result of how complex the nerves are in the mouth, pain from one tooth can present in another tooth, your neck, head, or ear. An endodontist is trained to find this pain and design a treatment plan to relieve the discomfort.
Root Canal Treatment:
A root canal is a treatment designed to alleviate pain caused by your pulp. Contrary to popular belief, root canals are not painful, and are now similar to having a filling placed. Having a root canal done will usually require two appointments and will save your tooth!
If you have received a root canal, and take proper care of your teeth, your treatment can last your whole life. However, in certain cases, the tooth that received treatment will not heal properly, or become diseased, and cause pain. This pain could happen months or even years after your initial treatment. In these cases, an endodontist can re-treat the tooth to relieve discomfort and pain.
If a simple root canal procedure cannot save your tooth, it may require endodontic surgery. There are several types of endodontic surgery that can be performed to save a tooth. The most common surgery is an apicoectomy, which is required if problems continue in the bony area around your tooth after a root canal procedure has been completed.
Saving your tooth should always be the first priority. However, there are cases where a tooth cannot be saved. Just like a periodontist or general dentist would do in these cases, an endodontist can place dental implants.
What is a General Dentist?
Your general dentist, more than likely, is the health care provider whom you see on the most regular basis. If you are visiting the dentist as recommended, you will see your general dentist roughly every six months. One major reason for this, is that your dentist is focused on preventing disease, not just treating disease.
A general dentist is not focused on one area of dentistry over another, hence the name. Your general dentist will offer a plethora of services that may include the following:
Offered by your dentist, these services help you maintain proper oral health by stopping disease from developing in the first place. The most important part of your preventive services will be your routine cleanings and regular exams (x-rays, oral cancer screenings, etc.). When you receive a checkup, your dentist, or dental hygienist, may provide you with information to improve your at-home hygiene habits.
Other types of preventive services include:
• Fluoride treatments
• Dental sealants
If your dentist identifies a problem with your oral health, they will provide a treatment plan to restore your health. The most common restorative procedure is removing a cavity and placing a filling (typically an amalgam filling). In addition to this, your dentist can treat you in times of dental emergency or if you have experienced a dental trauma. Your dentist may also identify, diagnose, and begin treatment if you have started to develop gingivitis or gum disease.
Other types of restorative services include:
- Dental implants
- Root Canal Therapy
- Dental bonding
Please note that not all dentists will perform all types of procedures, so it is important to check with the individual dentist.
Many patients have a desire to improve the cosmetic appeal of their smile. General dentists will typically offer a variety of options to improve the look of your smile. These include:
- Teeth Whitening
- Dental bonding
Along with the above services, your general dentist will also be responsible for referring you to specialists when you are in need of more focused care.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are dentists that focus on treating issues that relate to the hard and soft tissue of the face, jaw, and mouth.
What Is An Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeon?
Essentially, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, also referred to as OMS, have undergone extensive education and training in both the surgical and dental fields. In fact, the American Dental Association recognizes oral and maxillofacial surgeons as the only dental specialists who have spent at least four years of training in a hospital-based residency program. The AAOMS—the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons—reports that these surgeons train in a wide variety of medical fields, making them uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat many conditions.
During the four years that OMS students are spending in their residency programs, what are they learning about? Oral and maxillofacial surgeons gain expertise in areas like anesthesiology, plastic surgery, internal medicine, emergency medicine, otolaryngology, general surgery, and other specialized areas. Your general dentist or doctor might refer you to an OMS in the event that you sustain certain damage to the dental region of your face and jaw, or if your dentist believes that a tooth extraction would be better performed by an OMS.
Many oral surgeons practice out of an office, similar to the way your dentist works, or in a hospital setting.
Corrective Jaw Surgery
Oral surgeons are able to improve jaw irregularities that can help improve speaking, breathing, and chewing. This is done by the oral surgeon realigning the jaw into the proper position. This type of surgery can also help correct cleft palates and lips.
If you have any teeth that are damaged or impacted, an oral surgeon is able to remove them.
Although dental implants can be placed by a cosmetic or restorative dentist, oral surgeons are able to reconstruct the bone in the areas where you will be receiving dental implants. Oral surgeons can also reconstruct gum tissue around the implant in order to create a more natural look.
In the more advanced stages of oral cancer, an oral surgeon is able to perform specific operations. These surgeries include:
- Removal of the tumor
- Removal of cancer cells that have spread to your neck
- Reconstruction of your mouth following the operation
Temporomandibular joints connect the jaw to the temporal bones. These joints allow you to move your jaw side to side, and up and down. Oral surgeons are able to evaluate images of the joints and can make suggestions to dental specialists or physical therapists on the proper treatment. Sometimes surgery may be required when the joints have been damaged.
In the event you have experienced any kind of trauma to your jaw, facial bones or facial soft tissues, an oral surgeon will be able to correct the issues. The surgery can restore functionality to the affected area by using skin, nerves, or bones from other parts of your body.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dentist who has a focus on correcting the alignment of a patient’s teeth and jaw in cases of misalignment. A patient may need to receive a realignment for cosmetic or functional purposes. Additionally, a realignment may alleviate pain or discomfort experienced by the patient.
An orthodontist, typically referred to by a general dentist, will correct many problems with the alignment of a patient’s teeth and jaw through the use of braces. These problems include crowding, spacing, crooked teeth, and more. If these types of problems are not corrected, the patient may have some negative experiences both now, and in the future. Usually, an initial consultation is needed before a treatment plan can be designed. At the initial consultation, an orthodontist will take x-rays and moldings of the mouth in order to make a proper assessment of your teeth and determine what treatment plan is necessary for your case.
What types of braces are available?
Traditional Braces: When you think of braces, this is typically the image that comes to mind. Traditional braces are made from high-grade stainless steel and utilize brackets that are cemented to the surface of each tooth. After the brackets are in place, a wire is placed in order to put pressure on your teeth and cause a slow correction.
In addition to brackets and wires, traditional braces also make use of elastics, bands, or o-rings. Your orthodontist will change these each time your braces are adjusted.
Ceramic Braces: Ceramic braces are very similar to traditional braces. The key difference between ceramic and traditional braces is that ceramic braces utilize a transparent material that is much less visible than traditional brackets. Due to being less visible, ceramic braces are a popular option for adults looking to receive braces.
Damon Braces: With advances in technology, damon braces are growing in popularity. Damon braces provides you with a treatment that is both gentler and that requires less time in the office. Damon braces use a slide mechanism in place of elastics to connect your brackets and wires. Typically, damon braces will provide a quicker treatment process, as they allow teeth to move naturally, without needing adjustments. Due to how Damon braces work, there is less friction and pain as your teeth move.
Removable Trays: You have probably heard of Invisalign, right? Invisalign is system of transparent, removable trays that is a popular alternative to braces. These trays, or aligners, are custom-made for your individual case and can be removed at any time to eat or drink. Typically, you will wear an aligner for roughly two weeks before transitioning to the next tray and advancing your treatment. Invisalign is a popular choice amongst people who do not want the hassle or the poking and prodding of metal braces, and want to spend less time in the chair.
Not all orthodontists will offer all types of orthodontic treatment options. It is important to consult your dentist and an orthodontist in order to determine which kind of braces will provide you with the best results.
What is a Pediatric Dentist?
A pediatric dentist is a general dentist who has undergone additional education (usually two years) in order to treat children and adolescents in a more effective manner. Typically, your child will see a pediatric dentist from the time that they are infants through their teens.
Usually, people start to develop their first teeth when they are around 6 months old. This is when your child should start visiting the dentist. Around the age of 6, your child will start to lose their first set of teeth, also known as baby teeth, which will be replaced by their second set of teeth, also known as adult teeth. If your child does not receive good oral care to keep their baby and adult teeth healthy, they may experience a lifetime full of dental health problems.
Pediatric dentists work exclusively with patients who’s teeth are currently coming into place or have just came in. Due to this, pediatric dentists put an emphasis on educating their patients, and their patients’ guardians, about proper hygiene habits and other oral health topics. Through education, pediatric dentists hope to establish proper oral health hygiene habits while patients are young.
In children, the most common dental health problem is tooth decay (cavities). To prevent cavities, pediatric dentists perform routine cleanings, apply dental sealants, and will sometimes provide fluoride treatments. In addition to this, pediatric dentists will perform regular exams, like x-rays, to identify any potential problem areas.
Along with educating their patients and preventing cavities from forming, pediatric dentists perform many other services. These services include: removing teeth, fixing broken or chipped teeth, treating sensitive teeth, and more. In addition to this, pediatric dentists can administer anesthetics, write prescriptions as needed, and recommend any orthodontic or surgical procedures that may need to be performed.
What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist that specializes in two areas: periodontal disease and dental implants. More specifically, a periodontist is trained to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease, as well as in how to place dental implants. Periodontists receive three years of additional education after they have completed dental school.
In the trickier cases of periodontal disease, a general dentist will typically refer you to see a periodontist. A periodontist is trained in dealing with more sever cases of gum disease, and cases where the patient has a complex medical history. There are several types of therapy available, including scaling and root planing, laser gum therapy, and surgical options.
In addition to treating your gums, a periodontist is specially trained to place dental implants.
Along with providing treatment for periodontal disease and placing dental implants, periodontists may perform several types of oral surgery, including wisdom tooth removal, a sinus lift, a ridge augmentation, tooth extractions, and soft tissue grafting.
Most periodontists will have options available to improve the cosmetics of your smile. If you suffer from a gummy smile, your periodontist can perform a procedure that removes excess gum tissue from around your teeth, and allows more of your teeth to show. In this procedure, a laser will reshape the gums to enhance your smile. Other cosmetic treatments may be available, like a gum graft or crown lengthening, depending on the periodontist.
It is important to receive treatment for periodontal disease. If you start to develop gum disease and do not receive treatment, many other health problems can then begin to develop. Gum disease has been linked to many other diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more! Gum disease can cause other oral health problems, as well loss of teeth and jaw bone structure.
What is a Prosthodontist?
A prosthodontist is a dental professional who undergoes four years of dental school and an additional three years of education following dental school. During the three additional years of schooling, prosthodontists become experts in restoration and replacement of teeth. When a patient is in need of a full smile makeover, it usually requires a team of dental professionals that is typically captained by a prosthodontist.
Restores Damaged Teeth:
There are a variety of things that can damage your teeth, including cavities, bruxism, dietary choices, poor salivary flow, trauma, and more. If your teeth are severely damaged, a prosthodontist can provide treatments such as fillings, veneers, dentures, crowns, and implants. How invasive your treatment is will be dependent on the severity of your case.
Replaces Missing Teeth:
Based on your needs, a prosthodontist can offer many replacement options. Your case may call for complete dentures, a partial denture, dental implants, or a variation of these. Prosthodontists are specially trained to identify which type of replacement will work best for you.
Like many other dental professionals, prosthodontists specialize in dental implants. Dental implants act as the anchor of your replacement tooth or teeth.