Most people probably know how a pediatric dentist differs from an orthodontist. Some dental patients may even know the unique focus of endodontists. But few residents probably know that the American Dental Association recognizes nine dental specialties. Today’s post looks at the specific disciplines within the fascinating world of dentistry and the years in which they were formally recognized by the ADA. (If you want a challenge, see if you can name all nine before you continue reading this post.)
Endodontics (1983): This area focuses on “the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues.”1 If you need a root canal in Anchorage, you may require the services of an endodontist.
Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics (2003): If you want to straighten your teeth, you need an orthodontist. Dentofacial orthopedic specialists correct facial deformities using many of the same types of appliances used in teeth straightening therapy.
Pediatric Dentistry (1995): pediatric dentists provide dental care for infants, children and teenagers.
Periodontics (1992): “Periodontics is that specialty of dentistry which encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes.”1 Periodontal specialists perform crown lengthening, pocket reduction, and soft tissue (gum) grafts.
Prosthodontics (2003): Prosthodontists provide restorative dental procedures including dental implants, crowns, bridges, and dentures. They also perform cosmetic dental treatments including porcelain veneers, crowns, dental bonding, invisible fillings, and teeth bleaching.
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology (1991): This specialty concerns “the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. It is a science that investigates the causes, processes, and effects of these diseases. The practice of oral pathology includes research and diagnosis of diseases using clinical, radiographic, microscopic, biochemical, or other examinations.”1
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (2001): Oral and maxillofacial radiologists analyze radiographic images (x-rays) for issues of the maxillofacial area.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (1990): Oral surgeons perform surgery on the teeth, jaw, face, and gums. These include facial reconstruction, cleft lip and palate correction, bone grafting, dental implants, and impacted teeth.
Dental Public Health (1976): This discipline focuses on “preventing and controlling dental diseases and promoting dental health through organized community efforts.”1
General dentists and cosmetic dentists are trained in a wide variety of dental procedures. However, sometimes your general dentist will refer you to a local specialist, or include a specialist as part of your treatment team.
1Specialty Definitions, The American Dental Association, https://www.ada.org/495.aspx, accessed May 22, 2013
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