When most people think of dentistry, they often think of the types of procedures carried out by their primary dental care provider – usually a General Dentist. There are in fact several different branches of dentistry. Some are specializations which usually require a minimum of 2 years postdoctoral education in their specific area, while others are areas that a dentist has chosen to focus on.

There are currently 9 legally recognized specializations in dentistry that a dentist may choose to specialize in. Whether continuing their training and education right after graduating from dental school, or developing an interest in a certain area after practicing for some time and enhancing their education through a post doctoral program, the 9 areas a dentist can choose to specialize in are:

– Endodontics – the treatment of teeth with diseased dental pulp

Oral & Maxillofacial Dentistry – this area of dentistry focuses on complex oral surgeries

Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology – focusing on sophisticated oral and facial X-rays


  • Oral Pathology – the examination of tissue samples for microscopic identification of various dental diseases


– Orthodontics – preventing and treating poor dental bite and misaligned teeth (malocclusion)

Pediatric Dentistry – treating the unique dental issues of children

Periodontics – the treatment of gum and oral bone disease

Prosthodontics – replacing missing teeth, gums, bone and other facial structures

– Public Health Dentistry – focusing on providing dental information to a whole geographic area

In addition to the 9 specialities of dentistry, there are 8 non-specialist areas that a dentist may choose to focus on. These subcategories do not yet have specialist status, but many dentists believe certain areas should be recognised as such. These 8 areas are:

– Esthetic or Cosmetic Dentistry – focusing on making teeth visually pleasing

Family Practice – providing dental services to entire families

Implantology – replacing missing teeth with dental implants

Occlusion – treating poor dental bite and temporomandibular joint disorders

Restorative/Operative Dentistry – restoring damaged teeth

– Preventive Dentistry – emphasizing the importance of preventing dental diseases

– Holistic Dentistry – providing alternative treatments for dental issues

– Oral Medicine & Oral Diagnosis – an area of dentistry that branches into medicine, focusing on treating and diagnosing unusual oral diseases

The non-specialist areas that are strongly believed to deserve specialist status are Implantology, Restorative/Operational Dentistry, and Oral Medicine & Oral Diagnosis. This is because of the high level of training, skill and expertise required to complete their respective procedures.