Specialties in Dentistry
Most dentists practicing in the United States today are general dentists. This allows the dentist to provide care to a wide variety of patients. There are nine officially recognized dental specialties:
Dental Public Health
Public health dentists work to improve the dental health of the community through research and service. Dentists specializing in dental public health can be found in academic institutions, the national public health service and in community settings.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
Oral and maxillofacial radiology is the newest recognized dental specialty. Dentists trained in this specialty are skilled in radiologic techniques and interpretation, particularly in the head and neck region. Specialists in this field are important members of the health care team and work closely with other health care specialists to diagnose and treat head and neck disorders.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Specialists in oral and maxillofacial surgery are skilled in the surgical treatment of developmental and traumatic injuries to the head and neck. They are also experienced with local and general anesthesia methods and can perform many types of surgical procedures associated with the dentition and associated structures in the head and neck. Many oral and maxillofacial surgery specialists earn M.D. degrees during their specialty training.
Endodontists treat problems associated with the pulp tissue located inside the tooth. Also known as root canal specialists, endodontists are experienced with all types of pain control and radiologic interpretation.
Prosthodontists restore missing or broken teeth with artificial replacements. This can be as little as a partial crown for a broken-off tooth cusp, or as extensive as prosthetic replacements for missing facial structures lost to disease or injury.
Periodontics deals with disorders of the gums and bony tissue supporting the teeth. Periodontists play an important role in treating and preventing the effects of periodontal disease through surgical and non-surgical treatments.
Pediatric dentists specialize in the treatment of dental and related disorders in children. Pediatric dentists are trained in patient management as well as diagnosis and treatment of the results of dental disease.
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
Specialists in oral and maxillofacial pathology are trained in the diagnosis of head and neck disorders both macro and microscopically. Oral and maxillofacial pathologists diagnose disease and are important participants in treating patients with head and neck disorders.
Orthodontists specialize in the movement and positioning of teeth to create facial and functional harmony. They are knowledgeable about human growth and development patterns and are trained to plan treatment at the appropriate stages of an individual’s growth to maximize the results of the orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry and is studied after a dental degree has been earned.