Dentists concentrate on the evaluation, diagnoses, and treat of disease of the oral cavity. The mouth is an organ of the body with a complex network of teeth, bone, and gums.
Proper oral care is a necessary component of good overall health, and there are many specialists within dentistry who can provide the right type of care. Health professionals recommend an annual check-up with a doctor of internal medicine, or a general practitioner. However, visiting dentists every six months can provide an extra level of preventative care and good overall health. Routine visits to a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) include a thorough teeth cleaning, and evaluation of the overall health of the oral cavity. The dentist will refer a patient to a specialist if they may need a different level of care that is beyond their expertise of preventative care and maintenance. Licensure for this field of medicine requires a bachelor’s degree and an additional four years of dentistry school.
Upon completion of the coursework, dentists can seek additional training in a two year residency program to care for pediatric or geriatric patients. These doctors can provide the same preventative oral care for children and the elderly, who tend to have a different regime of care then patients within the general field of dentistry. Sometimes a patient will need corrective treatment of a displaced jaw or tooth irregularities. If this is necessary, the DDS will refer the patient to an orthodontist for additional care to improve the appearance of the teeth and face. An orthodontist has an additional two to three years of education and training to treat abnormalities of the teeth and face, including the jaw and gums.
Endodontists perform root canals, another common practice and procedure in dentistry. These specialists are trained to examine the dental pulp, and the tissues surrounding the tooth. Dental pulp lies within the center of the tooth, and it is made up of connective tissue and cells. If the pulp becomes injured of infected, the dentist will refer the patient to an endodontist for a root canal. Additionally, an endodontist can treat a cracked tooth, especially if the crack extends into the pulp. A patient will also be referred to this specialist if they have a toothache because an endodonist can also diagnose irritation and pain in the oral cavity.
A periodontist studies oral pathology. This includes disease of the teeth, jaw, and gums; halitosis, or bad breath, is a common oral disease that can be treated by a periodontist. These specialists also have an additional two to three years of post-graduate coursework to study other disease such as gingivitis, swollen gums, or abcesses. A DDS can have training in any of these fields, in addition to general oral maintenance.
Regular visits to a dentist are recommended for good health. These professionals will provide preventative oral care that includes a teeth cleaning, and thorough examination of the teeth and surrounding areas. Dentistry specialists work with general dentists to restore health and appearance to the gums, jaw, and bone. A DDS can have training in any of these fields, in addition to general oral maintenance.