Dentistry can be defined as diagnosis, evaluation, prevention or treatment of dental conditions by making use of surgical, non-surgical and other related procedures. Dental practices include overlapping responsibilities that cannot be routinely performed and should be treated only by the specialists.
American Dental Association recognizes certain specialties that include different areas of responsibilities.
11 Types Of Dental Specialties Recognized by ADA
Dental Public Health (Adopted May 1976)
It is a science of controlling and preventing any kind of dental disease and promoting oral health. This form of practice not only takes care of an individual but of the entire community as a whole. The main practice is to preach dental education along with applied dental research for prevention of oral diseases.
Endodontist (Adopted December 1983)
It is the branch of dentistry that deals with physiology, pathology and morphology of dental pulp, nerves and tissues. All these keep the tooth alive and any of them going bad can lead to gum problems.
The most common procedure performed by endodontist is root canal therapy where the infected tissue is removed, sterilized and the internal cavity is filled with a special material. All this is done to prevent any kind of periradicular conditions in the gums.
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology (Adopted May 1991)
This discipline of oral pathology deals with identification and management of oral diseases especially in the maxillofacial region. The dentist here deal with the causes and the effects of the diseases and researches are done to fight them. Various radiographic, clinical, biochemical and microscopic examinations are done for diagnosing the root cause.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (Adopted April 2001)
It is the specialty of radiology that deals with the interpretation and production of images by making use of radiant energy and its modalities for the diagnosis or various oral condition and disorders in the maxillofacial region.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (Adopted October 1990)
This includes the surgical treatment and diagnosis of various diseases and injuries of soft as well as hard tissues in maxillofacial region. The adjunctive treatment involves the esthetic aspect and the functionality of the gums. It is a commonly chosen field when it comes to removing of wisdom teeth and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). Broken jaw or face that could be a result of any accident and need a realigning needs assistance from oral and maxillofacial surgery.
Orthodontics (Adopted April 2003)
Orthodontics is among the popular specialties in dentistry. An orthodontic is a specialist who can help you move your teeth within the jaw and also deals with bit irregularities.
Bad bites are generally treated with dental braces or can also be corrected with teeth positioning guards. It includes the prevention, diagnosis and correction of neuromuscular and malocclusion abnormalities.
Pediatric Dentist (Pedodontist) (Adopted 1995)
Pediatric dentistry is an age old specialty that deals with primary as well as comprehensive oral health care for all age groups. The dentists are especially trained to take care of children and their fear. Pedodontists start seeing children since the age of three. This is the branch that usually deals with the patients who need special attention because of mental and emotional dental problems.
Periodontist (Adopted December 1992)
It is the branch of science that deals with diagnosis, prevention and treatment of gum problems that occur in the surrounding tissues.
They are also responsible for the implants in place of missing teeth and even known for surgical changes for a naturally looking gum line. Periodontist generally work in collaboration with general dentist to improve the bite functionality of the patients.
Prosthodontics (Adopted April 2003)
Any kind of repair or replacement of teeth is performed by prosthodontics. This specialty deals with diagnosis, treatment, maintenance, rehabilitation, of over all oral functionality and appearance of teeth and gums. Prosthodontists make use of artificial teeth, dentures, ceramic crown, gold crown and fix them in place of the missing teeth or the replaced teeth.
Another term that is quite common in the field of dentistry is sedation dentist that has not been recognized as a dental specialty. This is needed for providing sedation service to the patients undergoing a treatment or a surgery and it requires proper training and license.
DDS v/s DMD
These are the abbreviations that denotes the degree of the dentist where DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery while DMD is for Doctor of Dental medicine. There is no difference in the degree as such, both of them seem to acquire the same knowledge but the universities have entire prerogative to consider the degree to be awarded. American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation offer same requirements to both the degrees.
Three years of undergraduate education along with four years of dental education is a must to become a general dentist. However, to practice as a dental specialist like periodontist, orthodontist or a maxillofacial surgeon you need an additional post graduate degree.