What Are the Most Common Types of Dentists?

December 17, 2020 | General Dentist

Most people don’t realize there is more than one type of dentist. The professional you see at regular checkups is a general dentist, but there are also specialists in many different fields within oral care. Learning the most common types of dentists could help you understand which type you need to see for your specific problem and why.

General Dentist

A general dentist, also known as a family dentist, is who you visit most often. This is the licensed professional who takes care of you and your family’s oral hygiene on a regular basis. It is the most common type of dentist. The main purpose of a general dentist is to teach and practice preventative oral care. Your general dentist will use dental x-rays, routine cleanings and education to help you achieve and maintain proper oral health.

A general dentist will have either DMD or DDS in his or her name. A DDS is a Doctor of Dental Surgery, while a DMD is a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry. These two types of general dentists are essentially the same. The difference in degree comes from how the university recognizes the dental profession.

A general dentist is capable of handling the most common oral health problems, such as filling cavities, repairing chipped teeth, treating gum disease and providing whitening services. A general dentist may have to refer you to a specialist, however, for more complicated dental problems.

Different Types of Dental Specialists

A dental specialist has an additional two to four years of education and training in a particular subject, such as oral surgery or the gums. This training gives the professional special knowledge on a subject that qualifies him or her to provide care for a specific problem. There are many types of dental specialists you may have to visit throughout your lifetime for different oral problems.

  • Pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist exclusively sees minor children. This professional is certified in treating children, who act differently at the dentist than adults. Most children see pediatric dentists until they turn 18.
  • Orthodontists specialize in improving the bite when a patient has misaligned teeth. They fit patients with devices to improve and straighten bone structure. You may need to see an orthodontist if you require braces, mouth guards, retainers or clear alignment trays.
  • Oral surgeon. Oral surgeons have additional years of training in invasive surgeries. They perform procedures such as complicated tooth extractions, reconstructive surgeries for cleft lips or palates, and cancerous tissue removals.
  • A periodontist is a type of dentist who focuses on diagnosing and treating gum problems. These professionals specialize in gum disease, pain, inflammation and discomfort. They perform procedures such as dental implants and cosmetic skin grafting.
  • A prosthodontist provides dental prosthetics, such as implants that replace decayed or missing teeth. They preside over crowns, bridges, tooth implants and dentures. You may need a prosthodontist for cosmetic dentistry as well as functional improvements to your bite.
  • An endodontist focuses on the inside of the tooth, or the pulp. The pulp is located below the gumline and consists of soft, sensitive tissues. If these tissues become inflamed or damaged, an endodontist can treat it or perform a root canal.

Certified dental specialists fill out the dentistry profession by offering in-depth insights and information into unique dental problems. You may need to see one of these types of dentists rather than your general dentist if you have a condition that requires specialized care and treatment. At Dental on Central, our team has training and expertise across subjects, including routine cleanings, root canals, crowns, veneers and whitening. Contact us to learn more about the types of treatments we offer.