8 Types of Dentists and Dental Specialists in Canada
When most people think of dentists, they think of their general dentist, who they visit for routine exams and the occasional filling. However, there are many different types of dentists, many of which specialize in certain areas of dentistry. These dentists and dental specialists include:
When you visit a dentist for a routine exam or common procedures (like tooth extraction or a filling), you will likely see a general dentist. Roughly 86% of all dentists in Canada are general dentists.
Unlike a specialist who focuses on a particular area of dentistry, general dentists like ours at Blue Water Dental provide a wide range of services. These services include:
Just as the name suggests, restorative services are designed to restore your oral health. Fillings are one of the most common and familiar restorative services. Tooth decay is removed, and a filling is placed to help keep teeth healthy. Fillings are just one of many dental restoration services available through an office like ours. Fixing a broken or knocked-out tooth from an emergency would also fall into this category of treatment. Other services include:
Wisdom tooth extraction
Diagnosing and treating gum (periodontal)disease
More advanced treatments can include orthodontics, root canals and dental implants.
A general dentist also performs preventative services designed to help patients maintain good oral health. Preventative services can include:
Routine exams with diagnostic imaging
Education from our team on how to improve your at-home oral hygiene routine
Recommendation of preventative treatments, such as dental sealants
A general dentist may also be able to fit patients with custom mouth guards.
Identifying Health Concerns
Oral health is often an indication of your overall health. However, dental issues can also impact other areas of your body or aspects of your health. For example, untreated oral infections may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or make it more challenging to keep diabetes under control. A general dentist is specially trained to recognize these issues and provide treatment or offer a referral when necessary.
In addition, your general dentist can help you:
Understand how your diet affects your oral health
Find ways to stop smoking
They can also provide information on public health.
General dentists can also perform some cosmetic procedures to help you get the smile you’re dreaming of. These cosmetic procedures can include:
An orthodontist treats misaligned or crooked teeth. Although they are most commonly associated with braces, orthodontists can provide other treatments that make it easier for patients to floss and brush their teeth.
Orthodontists can help treat:
Chew or bite issues
Teeth clenching and grinding
Issues with biting into the gums, cheek or roof of the mouth
Misplaced or crowded teeth
Protruding teeth or teeth that have grown in poorly
An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in endodontic therapy, which focuses on the soft tissue inside of the teeth (also known as the pulp). The word “endodontic” is derived from the Greek words “endo,” which means “inside,” and “odont,” which means “tooth.”
While all dentists are trained in endodontic therapy, endodontists specialize in this area of dentistry. Some teeth are especially difficult to treat, and in this case, patients may be referred to an endodontist.
Endodontists also undergo at least two years of advanced education in endodontic therapy. As a result, the gain specialized knowledge of root canal techniques, which allows them to diagnose and treat more complex cases.
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is the only type of dentist to undergo surgical training in an accredited residency program. They spend four years training with medical residents who specialize in general surgery, internal medicine and anesthesiology. In addition, these dental specialists also spend time working in emergency medicine, plastic surgery and ear, nose and throat treatment.
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon’s training is primarily focused on the tissues of the mouth, face and jaw. These specialists are qualified to diagnose and treat a variety of issues, including:
Facial trauma, including injuries to the mouth, jaw or face.
Wisdom teeth, which often fail to emerge properly and become impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth must be removed.
Cleft palate, which occurs when areas of the nose cavity and mouth don’t form properly during fetal development.
Oral cancer. Your dentist may refer you to a maxillofacial surgeon if you notice signs of oral cancer, such as abnormal lumps, red or white patches, difficulty chewing or swallowing or chronic sore throat.
Temporomandibular joint surgery, which may be used to correct issues with the temporomandibular joint. You may need this procedure if you’re having difficulty opening your mouth, experiencing jaw pain or dealing with earaches and headaches.
Implants, which permanently replace missing teeth.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons also have training in general anesthesia, local anesthesia, IV sedation and nitrous oxide.
A pedodontist, also known as a pediatric dentist, is a dentist who specializes in treating infants, children and teens. While they typically perform all the procedures and services that general dentists offer, pediatric dentists have specialized training that helps them deal with behavioural issues that may arise when treating young patients.
Pedodontists can treat a variety of patients, from infants to adolescents. Typically, they stop treating patients once they reach 18 years of age. A pediatric dentist’s office is designed with young patients in mind. Waiting rooms typically have multiple play areas. Games, books and toys help keep kids occupied while waiting for their appointments.
Oral pathologists diagnose diseases of the mouth or jaws, head, neck and face. They use bone or tissue biopsies, X-rays and exam information to help with diagnoses. Because oral health is often linked to overall health, oral pathologists must have a thorough understanding of oral health and disease in general. Oral pathologists focus a great deal of their time on diagnosing neck and head cancers.
Prosthodontists focus on restoring damaged or missing teeth and other oral structures. They are typically called in for complicated tooth restorations. These dental specialists can construct and install:
Bridges: These dental structures link multiple crowns together when one or more teeth are missing. Bridges can be attached to natural teeth or dental implants.
Crowns: Also known as caps, crowns replace the tooth's visible part. They are typically needed after a root canal or if teeth are badly broken or decayed.
Implants: Posts are surgically implanted into the bone to replace a tooth. The posts are then covered with a crown. This allows for a natural tooth replacement.
Dentures: Used to replace some or all missing teeth. Removable dentures can be supported by dental implants or oral tissue.
Bonding and veneers: Used to correct discoloured, cracked or misshaped teeth.
Periodontists are dentists who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease. They can also place dental implants and perform cosmetic periodontal procedures.
These dental specialists are trained extensively in the treatment of oral inflammation, and they have three additional years of training. They use the latest and most advanced techniques to diagnose and treat gum disease.
Patients with advanced gum disease or complex medical histories may be referred to a periodontist. They offer a wide range of treatments, which can include:
Root surface debridement
Surgical treatments for advanced gum issues
When examining the mouth, periodontists will measure the size and depth of periodontal pockets to assess the health of the gums.
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