A dentist is a dentist is a dentist, right? Not quite.
While most of us are familiar with general dentistry, there are a variety of specialties within the field that require additional education and training.
Dentists usually complete at least 3 years of an undergraduate science-focused curriculum. Many dental schools require that students possess a bachelor’s degree prior to entering a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) program.
Once accepted into dental school, students spend 2 years learning everything they need to know to become a dentist and treat patients. The last two years of dental school are usually spent putting their new found knowledge into practice. Most dental schools have low cost dental clinics that allow dentists-to-be to perfect their skills on patients while being supervised by a veteran.
After graduation, the newly minted dentist can choose to practice as a general dentist or he or she can become a dental specialist. Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist.
Dental/oral health specialists include the following:
- Pediatric Dentist (dentist for children)
- Endodontist (pulp specialists – pulp is the soft tissue of the tooth)
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (facial surgeons who work primarily in the oral cavity)
- Periodontist (treats gum-related diseases)
- Prosthedontist (restore and replace teeth)
- Oral Pathologist (diagnosis of oral diseases)
- Cosmetic Dentists (specializes in aesthetic dentistry, to approve appearance more than to improve the patient’s health)
So, the next time you visit your dentist, know that he or she is truly an expert in dentistry and your smile is in good hands.