When it comes to oral health, a common perception is that a dentist is the one-stop solution for all dental needs, from fixing root canals and braces to correcting gap teeth or removing wisdom teeth. After all, these are all routine procedures you experience in the dentist’s chair.
Yet, the truth is significantly farther from this common notion. Much like their medical counterparts, dentists encompass various specialities tailored to specific procedures. We’ll be exploring some of these disciplines here.
You should note that the following dental professionals have dedicated themselves to at least an extra four years of intensive study and specialised training to augment their foundational dentistry degrees.
The orthodontist is a familiar figure if you have endured metal braces in your formative years. Orthodontists are dental practitioners specialised in diagnosing, treating, and rectifying irregularities relating to teeth, jaws, and bite.
While misaligned teeth may appear trifling, their implications extend beyond aesthetics. Crooked teeth complicate the task of maintaining dental hygiene, increasing the risks of tooth decay and gum disease.
To this end, Orthodontists administer an array of treatments, including the alignment of teeth and jaws, the installation of dental devices like braces and headgear, and the improvement of congenital conditions such as cleft palate.
Hence, if you’d like to know what type of dental implant will be the most fitting for you or how long do dental implants last, an Orthodontist is your go-to dentist.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a facet of dentistry that engages with ailments, conditions, and traumas affecting the oral cavity, face, jaws, and neck. Among the common procedures carried out by oral and maxillofacial surgeons are:
- Reconstruction of oral and maxillofacial regions
- Treatment of facial injuries resulting from accidents
- Dental implant surgeries
- Removal of cysts and tumours from the jaws
- Correction of birth anomalies such as cleft lip or palate
- Pediatric Dentist or Pedodontist
While most dentists cater to patients of all ages, pediatric dentists are especially trained to treat the oral health conditions of infants and children under the age of 16. A unique aspect of pedodontics is its emphasis on the evolving developmental stages of young patients, thus necessitating tailored treatment recommendations.
Pedodontists offer an assortment of therapeutic and diagnostic dental interventions, including:
- Routine dental treatments like oral health assessments, cavity removal, and teeth cleaning,
- Tendering early diagnosis for dental misalignment and improper bites
- Performing endodontic procedures on primary and permanent teeth
- Conducting dental surgeries to mend facial injuries caused by accidents.
Gum disease, a condition manifesting when the tissues covering the teeth become infected and inflamed, is a common dental problem. While general dentists can often address mild cases, progressive gum diseases like periodontitis require more comprehensive interventions. This is where periodontists enter the picture.
Periodontists specialise in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders affecting the supportive structures of teeth, such as the gums and surrounding cartilage. Their repertoire includes procedures such as;
- Root planning and scaling to eliminate plaque and calculus
- Placement of dental implants
- Soft tissue surgeries like gingivectomy and flap surgery
- Regenerative interventions to combat bacterial intrusion.
For those in dire need of root canal therapy, endodontists are the designated saviours. Often dubbed “root canal dentists,” endodontists are extensively trained in managing intricate dental issues affecting the tooth pulp, i.e., the nexus of nerves, tissues, and blood vessels nestled deep within each tooth.
Endodontists frequently undertake a range of procedures, such as root canal therapy and tooth restoration. They also address issues related to cracked teeth, perform specialised endodontic surgeries, and execute tooth extractions when preservation is unachievable.
- Forensic Odontologist
In many movies, we often witness perceptive individuals who are able to discern intricate details from corpses just by looking at dental impressions. Forensic odontologists embody this specialised skill set. Forensic odontology is a unique dental discipline concerned with the examination and interpretation of dental evidence in the pursuit of justice.
Forensic odontologists use their expertise to inspect the surface of bodies to discern bite marks and record them through forensic photography.
Beyond this, using their skill set, odontologists can reconstruct identities, deduce gender, ethnicity, and age estimations solely from dental impressions. Furthermore, they craft forensic reports and testify in courtrooms, collaborating closely with law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and fellow forensic experts to facilitate justice.
The world of dentistry is a diverse and specialised field that covers a range of professionals who dedicate years of rigorous training to address specific dental needs. From orthodontists ensuring proper alignment of teeth and jaws to oral and maxillofacial surgeons handling complex procedures, each speciality plays a vital role in helping us maintain our oral health and general well-being.