The American Dental Association states that when it comes to dental care, they recognize several fields considered as specializations. Since these are specializations, all of them require not just the four year taken up to get a dentistry degree but additional years of schooling as well. So what are these specializations?
- Dental Public Health: This is the field that deals with policies relating to social oral health. It also tackles the causes and control of oral diseases especially in different groups of people. They look at patterns in order to determine how to prevent the disease from spreading or happening again.
- Endodontics: This specialization puts focus on diagnosing, treating and preventing disease that can affect either the periradicular tissues or the dental pulp. The most common procedure under this specialization is the root canal therapy.
- Oral and Maxillofacial: This is a general field and has three specialized sub-fields under it.
- Pathology: This particular sub-field focuses on treating disorders related to the mouth and jaw. It can also include the face.
- Radiology: This has the same focus as Pathology except that it uses imaging devices in order to study the disorders further.
- Surgery: As the term implies, this specialization focuses on conducting surgeries related to the jaw and mouth. Some examples of the procedures under this field that an oral surgeon can perform include, but are not limited to, dental implants, cleft lip surgeries, and reconstructive surgery.
- Orthodontics: This is the field of specialization that focuses on straightening one’s teeth or correcting one’s bite. Think braces and retainers.
- Pedodontics: Known also as Pediatric Dentistry, their focus is on oral care of children.
- Periodontics: The main focus of dental care professionals practicing this field is to treat the supporting structures as well as treat infections of the gum tissue.
- Prosthodontics: This is more on prostheses and restoration. Dentists who specialize in this particular field help people restore dentures. They also install dental crows and dental implants, as well as dental bridges.
As you may have noticed, dental cosmetic surgery is still not a recognized specialization in dentistry. Clearly the world of dentistry is far from what it started from. From simply extracting tooth it has now become a field with specializations that cater to patients different demands. What does this mean for a patient? While this may mean more expense, it can also mean that the care if better than going to a general practitioner. If fact, it is difficult for a particular discipline and not see specializations in them. For doctors you have the general practitioners, cardiologists, and epidemiologists, to name a few.
Since these are specialized fields, if your dentist informs you that he or she is certified as one, then do not hesitate to ask and see their certification. Any good dentist worth his salt knows that if they are not certified to do a particular procedure they have to refer you to others who do. With more advancement in the way, we expect that these dental care specializations may increase even further.