In general, dentists who practice in the specialty fields of dentistry have completed additional training beyond post-dental education. Once they have achieved the required education, they go through the process of becoming certified in that field. The American Dental Association (ADA) recognized 9 dental specialties including Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Orthodontics Pedodontics, Periodontics, and Prosthodontics.

An Overview of Dental Specialties

Dental Public Health involves the study of differences in oral diseases and patterns among a variety of social groups. A specialist in this field does not practice actual dental procedures.

Endodontics, derived from the Greek words “endo” meaning inside and “odons” meaning tooth, is a dental specialty that involves treatment of the soft pulp and roots of a tooth. It covers the diagnosis and treatment of diseases experienced by damaged dental pulp. An endodontist typically performs a root canal in which the diseased pulp is removed from the roots. If only one of the roots is infected, the procedure can be performed quickly. However, if all of the roots have been infected and a great deal of diseased pulp must be removed, the root canal process is more complicated and time consuming.

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology refers to the diagnosis and study of diseases affecting the teeth, mouth, jaw, face, and oral tissues. This dental specialty identifies the afflictions that damage the oral and maxillofacial areas. An OMP (Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologist) studies the process and effect of the disease under investigation, attempting to determine its cause.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology refers to the field of radiologic interpretation using specialized imaging devices. It involves the study and diagnosis of oral and maxillofacial diseases. A trained OMR (Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist) specialist is trained in the methods needed to interpret maxillofacial MRIs, CTs, CBCTs, and ultrasounds.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery refers to the treatment of diseased teeth and tissues through the use of surgical procedures on the jaw and supporting structures of the mouth. It deals with teeth that cannot be repaired, but must be extracted from the oral cavity, as well as oral surgeries that deal with cleft lip treatment, facial reconstruction related to the mouth and jaw, or cleft palate procedures.

Orthodontics involves treatment for malocclusions (problems with tooth alignment and bite) for both adults and children. It typically includes the repositioning of teeth using braces. A growing trend features more adults than ever before undergoing treatment to straighten their teeth through both traditional and modern forms of braces. Its primary focus is on the straightening of the teeth in order to correct poor tooth alignment.

Pedodontics is a dental specialty involving the care of children’s teeth. It is also commonly referred to as pediatric dentistry and includes all basic dental procedures such as cleaning, diagnosis of problematic issues, and basic dental treatment related to the filling of cavities or the placement of temporary crowns.

Periodontics refers to the dental specialty that handles the treatment of diseased gums as well as the supporting tissues of the mouth. A general dentist can diagnose gum disease. In some cases, particularly in the early stages of gum disease, your dentist will provide treatment. However, when problems related to the gums and supporting tissues are more advanced, the patient is referred to a periodontist, who has the skills and training to provide the type of specialized treatment that is needed.

Prosthodontics is a specialized form of dentistry that encompasses the full rehabilitation of the mouth at multiple levels. As such, it is the most advanced of all of the dental specialties. The prosthodontist treats congenital disorders, the repair of failed treatments, oral problems due to dental neglect, maxillofacial trauma, and advanced problems related to the teeth, gums, and supporting bone structure.

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