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Information > Dental Specialties
Although general dentists can deliver
most dental care, a patient may need care from a specialist. About
80 percent of dentists are general dentists, and 20 percent are
specialists. The American Dental Association recognizes these eight
Endodontists save teeth with root-canal therapy, which involves
the soft inner tissue (pulp) of the teeth. They can diagnose the
causes of sensitive or painful teeth and may use non-surgical and
surgical techniques to treat them. They also treat teeth that have
suffered traumatic injuries, like cracks, or that have been evulsed
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
Oral and maxillofacial pathologists identify disorders that
affect the mouth and facial region. They research and diagnose
conditions using clinical, radiographic, microscopic, biochemical or
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Often called oral surgeons, these specialists have a diverse
role. They remove teeth, including wisdom teeth, and place dental
implants. They perform surgery that involves the functional and
aesthetic aspects of the facial bones, jaws and overlying soft
tissues. They use intravenous sedation or general anesthesia in
either a hospital or office setting. Oral surgeons also treat
injuries to the head, jaws and facial areas. They diagnose and treat
oral and facial lesions, which often include cancer.
They are the primary providers of orthognathic surgical procedures
(aligning upper and lower jaws). They also treat TMJ or TMD (temporomandibular
Orthodontists and Dentofacial Orthopedics
Orthodontists evaluate growth of the dentofacial structures.
They diagnosis malpositioned (crooked) teeth and orthognathics
(improperly formed jaws). They treat these problems in children and
adults by straightening teeth with braces. They work as a team with
oral and maxillofacial surgeons and others to diagnose and treat
orthognathic patients. They also work closely with pediatric
dentists to diagnose and treat malocclusions (dental abnormalities
such as an improper bite).
Pediatric dentists (pedodontists) have special training in
treating children. They provide care for infants and children
through adolescence, including those with special needs.
Periodontists diagnose and treat disorders of the supporting
structures of the teeth - the gingival (gums) and bony tissues. They
offer non-surgical and surgical treatment and may place and maintain
dental implants. They often diagnose and treat diseases of the mouth
and diagnose and treat temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD).
Prosthodontists diagnose and treat patients who need crowns,
bridges and partial or complete dentures. They provide diagnosis and
restorative work for patients who have had dental implants placed by
other surgical specialists. Some prosthodontists may place and
maintain dental implants themselves.
Public-health dentists treat dental diseases and promote dental
health through government-controlled efforts in a community.