General dentists are primary care oral health providers and are one of the most common types of dentists. You can visit your general dentist for routine dental cleanings and dental exams. Over the years, many patients have asked me what the difference is between different clinical dental specialists and a general dentist. Some also wonder why an office doesn't have all the different types of dentists working full time under the same roof.
A periodontist focuses on the problems patients have with the gums, bones, and tissues that support the teeth. To explain bone loss to our patients, I compare the support of the teeth with the bone that surrounds them in the mouth, like a fence post that is placed on the floor with concrete around it. When a six-foot pole of about six feet has four feet of concrete supporting it around it on the ground, it is very strong and stable. If the same six-foot fence post has only six inches of concrete around it on the ground, it can be moved very easily and is neither stable nor strong.
A similar situation occurs when patients lose bone around a tooth; the tooth becomes mobile and the patient may eventually lose the tooth. When it is determined that our patients have signs of bone loss around their teeth during their routine, preventive and hygienic cleaning visit, we generally schedule a deep cleaning, often with local antibiotics, so that the gums are healthy again and to train our patients on how to improve their home care. The difference between routine cleaning and deep cleaning is that deep cleaning is generally necessary when a patient hasn't visited any type of dentist for a while, has excessive bleeding and swelling, or may have unhealthy levels of bacteria or tartar under the gums. If your gums and teeth don't respond or need additional treatment, we'll have our periodontist perform an exam.
Periodontists are trained to treat these diseased areas and will work to save your teeth unless they have passed a point of no return. Periodontists perform many procedures, such as reducing excess gums, equalizing the level of the gums for aesthetic purposes, adding gum grafts to areas that are sunken and lack tissue, bone grafts in areas that lack bone, hopeless tooth extractions, placing dental implants to support the crowns, and replacing missing teeth (including the All-on-4 procedure, which restores an entire mouth full of teeth in one day) and biopsies on suspicious tissue areas. An endodontist is also known as an endodontic specialist. They treat the sick, dead, inflamed, or infected nerve in a tooth that can cause unbearable pain.
The inside of each tooth has living blood vessels and cells called pulp. If a cavity, crack, or trauma affects the pulp, the nerve dies and becomes infected and can cause pressure and inflammation in the bone and tissue that supports the tooth. Sometimes, patients present with an inflamed area and, in fact, pus drains around the root. When an endodontist performs endodontic treatment, they will actually drill a small access hole in the upper part of the tooth, remove infected tissue, clean and shape the ducts with small shaping files, and place a rubber material called guttapercha in the canal to seal it from any other bacteria that invade the space.
This will usually immediately get rid of all the pain in the area and, with the help of antibiotics, the tooth will generally feel better very soon. After the endodontist has completed the root canal, a temporary filling is placed in the access area. The general dentist will then make a porcelain crown on the top of the back tooth to protect it from fracture. Endodontists also perform surgery (an apicectomy) on teeth that have a chronic infection that cannot be cured with regular endodontic treatments.
A prosthodontist is a dental specialist who manufactures removable or non-removable dentures or replacement teeth for patients who are missing some or all of their teeth. These include porcelain crowns and bridges, partial dentures, and full dentures. Most general dentists perform all of these procedures, and some dentists, such as those in our office, have advanced training and also handle larger cases involving implants or natural teeth. Prosthodontists also manufacture specialized dental prostheses for patients who have lost part of their jaw due to accidents, cancer, or physical defects.
After reviewing the types of dentists that can serve adults or children, a pediatric dentist or pedodontist is a type of dentist that primarily treats children. As anyone who has children knows, children tend to have greater anxiety when they visit any type of dentist and need additional care. Some general dentists don't see children in their office and will refer them to a pedodontist. We treat children in our office for routine cleanings, x-rays, white fillings and extractions.
When we see a child who has special needs and cannot be treated in a general dentist's office, we will refer him or her to a pedodontist. The child can be slightly sedated and the work will be safely completed there. A general dentist is also known as a family dentist and takes care of your oral health on a regular basis. This is the most common type of dentist and most of their work revolves around important preventive oral care.
This includes regular dental cleanings, dental x-rays, and educating patients about proper oral care at home. General dentists are also responsible for restorative oral care, such as treating tooth decay by replacing it with artificial fillings, repairing cracked, chipped, or missing teeth, and whitening services. They also treat oral problems caused by gum disease and root problems below the gum line. Your general dentist can also guide you through the process of placing braces, false teeth, mouth guards, and other treatments.
Because your general dentist is the health professional you're likely to see most often, he'll also monitor the health of your mouth, neck, and head to make sure there are no problems. Both types of dentists are considered general dentists and are your primary provider who addresses your general oral health care needs. This includes diagnosing and treating problems such as gum disease, tooth decay, root canals, crowns and bridges, as well as preventive care, which, hopefully, will allow you to avoid the need for our following types of dentists: dental specialists. Sometimes, your oral health needs may require that your general dentist refer you to a dental specialist.
Dental specialists have completed an additional two or four years of training that focuses on a specific aspect of dentistry. These are the most common types of dental specialists. Pediatric dentist: The types of dentists that work exclusively with children are called pediatric dentists or pedodontists. Much of their additional training focuses on creating a positive association between children and their dentist and is based on child psychology.
They work with children to create a foundation for good oral health care, and many work with patients who have special needs. A dentist with a DDS earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree; one with a DMD earned his Doctor of Medicine degree in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. Here in British Columbia, dentists are regulated by the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia (CDSBC), and different dental specialties must be certified by the CDSBC. Stony Plain Dental Center, a member of 123Dentist, one of the largest networks of dental offices wholly owned by dentists in Canada, has been serving the Stony Plain community in Alberta (Canada) since 1999.