Patients often think of dentists as specialized doctors who work specifically on the mouth and teeth; that’s not far from the truth at all, so it’s sometimes astonishing to folks how many dental specialists there are; who knew the mouth alone carried so much complexity? The reality is, there are all kinds of specialists for parts of your mouth seen and unseen, each having learned dentistry and gone on to specialize in one specific area of dental care.
Endodontists are tooth pulp specialists: endodontic literally means “inside the tooth”. Pulp is the name for the name for a soft tissue containing blood vessels and nerves; it can be found in the pulp chambers and root canals inside your tooth. Getting a “root canal” is thus not a procedure; what’s actually occurring is the cleaning and reshaping of your root canal in what’s better termed a “root canal treatment”.
Orthodontists are bite specialists; they are concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of malocclusion, which means “bad bite”. Orthodontic means “straight tooth”; you may see a naming pattern here, where dental terms are just Greek and Latin terms for what they specialize in. This is the domain of braces and orthodontic retainers; in short, they’ll make your teeth straight! This can help relieve pain, improve your bite and increase your quality of life.
Following our naming convention, prosthodontists are those who make prosthetics for your teeth; they restore the architecture of your mouth, replacing damaged and broken teeth with dental implants, dentures, bridges, crowns and more. They can also help restore missing tissue in the jaw; all in all, if something is missing or damaged, a prosthodontist might just be the specialist to see!
You know what’s in the periphery; it’s what around your line of sight. Periodontists, appropriately, deal with what’s around the teeth; namely, the gums! Periodontal disease is extraordinarily common; it’s when it gets really bad that periodontists have to intervene. They might remove damaged gum tissue in a surgery, or clean the surface of infected tooth roots.
There’s a wide variety of other dental specialists with less flashy names. Pediatric dentists, appropriately, specialize in taking care of children’s teeth. Public health dentists study how to better prevent and maintain the teeth of the public at large, forming policies like water fluoridation. There are oral and maxillofacial radiologists who are highly trained to process and interpret diagnostic images of the mouth and face. Oral pathologists have studied mouth diseases and their treatment extensively, while oral surgeons, unsurprisingly, take care of complex surgeries.
As you can see, there’s a lot of specialists in the world of dentistry, all of whom started as dentists and then followed through on continuing education. The first stop for any dental problem, though, is still your good old dentist; with proper dental care, almost any visit to the specialist can be avoided; prevention is key! If you don’t have a Winnipeg dental office to visit, check ours out; we’re always accepting new patients, and we’d be glad to spare you a trip to the specialist!