Dental specialists blog
Dentistry, like medicine, has various specialties. Each of these deals with a specific area of the oral-facial complex. The benefit to having specialties is the ability to focus on specific problems in far greater detail and depth. In this way an expertise is developed that may not be available in a general practice setting. Thus, unique and difficult patient problems may be addressed in the best way.
Specialists receive additional years of university training beyond that of a general dentist. The number of years varies by the specialty. However, the average number ranges from 2 to 4 years of additional education. General dentist will refer patients to a specialist if their situation is complex and requires greater specialized skill sets to complete treatment or requires specialized equipment.
The following is brief descriptions of those specialists who are recognized in Ontario. Other jurisdictions may have variations.
Many patients need some degree of sedation to cope with the rigors of dental care. This may be due to anxiety, fear and phobia or a systemic illness. Care in hospital settings is not always available or considered an appropriate use of the resources in a strained health care system.
Dental Anesthesiologists are trained to offer a spectrum of sedation ranging from oral medication to intravenous sedation. Their offices are equipped to offer general dental care and support for the sedated patient pre and post treatment. The need for anesthesia services is profound, so some travel around to other specialty offices and general practices offering sedation services to those patients.
Endodontists are also known as root canal specialists. Generally, most people have an idea of what they do. That is, cleaning and filling root canal spaces. However it is not often known that endodontist actually specialize in all diagnosis and treatment which is related to the pulp (nerve) of a tooth. So besides removing diseased pulp tissue and saving teeth that would otherwise have to be removed, they also do microsurgeries all in service of keeping teeth.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Oral surgeons are most often thought of as only removing wisdom teeth. Yet, they perform all manner of surgery on the facial complex. The treatment ranges from orthodontic surgeries to the post trauma rebuilding of faces and jaws.
Generally, they work in private oral surgery office settings and in hospitals.
Oral radiologists, as in medicine, are responsible for interpreting various forms of imaging. All dentists take and interpret x-rays and other images. The difference is the fact that oral radiology clinics are usually equipped with imaging technologies that the general dentist or other dental specialist is not. Thus, more involved investigation is possible.
Oral Medicine and Pathology
Pathology is a very complex and extensive field of study. Most diseases all look the same clinically. It is only by examining biopsied tissues at the cellular level that the distinctions may be made. Oral pathology deals with the disease processes of the oral-facial complex by investigating, diagnosing pathology samples and treating the disease processes.
It is the rare person that does not know what the orthodontist does today. One would think that orthodontics, braces, are for aesthetics only. However, orthodontists monitor growth and development, and intervene when jaws development is not ideal. This prevents and corrects future functional issues not just the appearance of the smile.
They are treat adults not just children.
This is the specialty that intervenes when the supporting bone and the gum tissues are diseased. Treatments range from root planning and scaling to various surgical procedures. The aim is to eliminate the infection, stabilize the gums to retain the teeth.
They also place implants, since it is an artificial tooth ‘root’ that is surgically implanted. Oral surgeons also place implants. However, the difference can be thought of as rough carpenters and cabinet makers. The focus is slight different between the two.
Complex oral rehabilitation with artificial teeth – crowns, bridges, implant supported teeth and dentures (both full and partial) are in the province of prosthodontics. The need for the complex rehabilitation may due to general diseases or years of dental deterioration.
Public Health Dentistry
This specialty is involved with governments, and public health policy. They generally supervise the implementation of government programs and fulfill oversight for these programs.