The dentistry field has several types of dental specialties including endodontics, orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, pediatric dentistry, and more. Dental specialists are oral healthcare providers who receive specialized training after dental school, much like a neurologist or cardiologist.
Dental specialties are recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards (NCRDSCB) to protect the public, nurture the art and science of dentistry, and improve the quality of care. Currently, there are twelve dental specialties recognized by NCRDSCB.
The 12 dental specialties recognized by NCRDSCB include:
Endodontics is the dental specialty that has the critical responsibility of diagnosing, treating, and preventing infections and injuries in the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth. A root canal is an example of a procedure performed by an endodontist.
Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics is the dental specialty that includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion (bad bites of the teeth), as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures. An orthodontist provides teeth straightening by moving them through the bone structure with the use of braces or other corrective appliances.
Periodontics is the specialty of dentistry that encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of soft tissue (gum) diseases of the teeth, as well as the supporting structures (bones) of the teeth, whether they are natural or manmade teeth. A periodontist will treat periodontal disease (gingivitis – inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (gum and bone disease).
Prosthodontics is the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment, and oral function, associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes. A prosthodontist will repair natural teeth and replace missing teeth on a larger scale than a general dentist. They will utilize dentures or crowns (caps) as permanent replacements for missing or extracted teeth.
5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Oral and maxillofacial surgery is the specialty of dentistry which includes surgical treatment of diseases, injuries, and defects involving both the functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. This would include surgery to the face, mouth, jaw, and may work with patients who have tumors, masses, and cysts within the jaws.
6. Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist
Oral and maxillofacial radiology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of radiology concerned with the interpretation of images and data produced by all modalities of radiant energy that are used for the diagnosis and management of diseases, and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region (face, mouth, and jaws).
7. Dentist Anesthesiologists
Dental anesthesiology is the specialty of dentistry and the discipline of anesthesiology managing pain, anxiety, and overall patient health during dental, oral, maxillofacial, and adjunctive surgical or diagnostic procedures throughout the entire perioperative period. There is a particular emphasis on improving patient safety in dentistry and some pursue research related to all areas of anesthesiology.
8. Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologist
Oral and maxillofacial pathology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of pathology that deals with 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.
9. Pediatric Dentist or Pedodontist
Pediatric dentistry or pedodontics is an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs. This dentist can identify and address the onset of decay, crowding, crookedness, falling teeth, and other oral health problems.
10. Orofacial Pain (OFP)
Orofacial Pain is the specialty of dentistry that encompasses the diagnosis, management, and treatment of pain disorders of the jaw, mouth, face, head, and neck.
11. Oral Medicine
Oral Medicine is the specialty of dentistry responsible for the oral health care of medically complex patients and for the diagnosis and management of medical-related diseases, disorders, and conditions affecting the oral and maxillofacial region.
12. Dental Public Health (DPH)
Dental public health helps to prevent and control dental diseases and promote dental health through organized community efforts including dental research and dental care.
A general dentist is your primary care dental provider. A dentist has many responsibilities including the diagnosis, treatment, care, and management of your overall oral health. Non-metal fillings, periodontal (gum) care, root canal surgeries, crowns, bridges, and preventive education are some of the services a general dentist provides, among several others.
Cosmetic dentistry procedures include straightening, brightening, reshaping, and even repair teeth. Cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving a person’s smile and may include teeth whitening, dental veneers, dental bonding, white fillings, and invisible braces.
Restorative dentistry restores your smile and health after tooth damage and disease. Restorative services will improve the structure, health, and appearance of the teeth and mouth for those suffering from ailments.
Geriatric dentistry is concerned with the oral health of elderly persons, who usually have significant medical problems and are taking multiple medications. Elderly people often experience symptoms of dental decay and gingival (gum) disorders that differ from symptoms experienced by younger people.
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who holds the responsibility of preventing and treating oral diseases. A hygienist cleans teeth, checks the mouth for signs of oral diseases, and performs other preventive dental care.
A dental assistant assists with the dentist’s efficiency in providing top-quality oral health care. An assistant gives patient care and support as a dentist completes a check-up or procedure.