Dentists and the Types of Dentistry They Perform. Your dentist does all types of dental work, right? Not always. It is common belief that dentists cover all areas of oral services, but just like physicians, they usually specialize in certain areas.
Because dentistry focuses on the mouth, it is easy to think of that as a specialization on its own. While that may be technically correct, there are in fact many categories of dentistry that a dentist may choose to specialize in, such as:
- Endodontics – treating teeth with diseased tissue
- Orthodontics – treating misaligned teeth
- Pediatric Dentistry – treating children
These are just a few of the several sub-categories of dentistry a dentist may specialize in – each requiring at least two years of postdoctoral education in their specific area.
All dentists are trained and educated in general dentistry, meaning their training and education covers all areas of oral services to a certain degree. While some dentists will continue to practice in general dentistry (which is a specialization of its own), they will often refer patients to specialist dentists for certain treatments or procedures that they do not perform. For example, a general dentist who has not been educated and trained to perform surgery on a tooth with diseased tissue would refer a patient to an endodontist for specialist treatment.
In general, each type of dentist performs a different type of specialist dentistry. The exception to this rule is general dentists, who will have enhanced their general dentistry skills by completing one or more years of general-practice residency. This enables them to perform most types of dentistry, but not to a specialist level – there may still be certain circumstances where referral to specialists may be necessary.
So, while most dentists are able to perform most treatments, it is very often the case that certain areas of dentistry call for specialists in that particular area.