When we hear the word dentist, oftentimes we think that they are just doctors that are specializing in dealing with any kind of dental problems. Most of us are not aware of the different types of dentists and their expertise. In this article, we are going to differentiate their duties, responsibilities, and what sets them apart from each other. Lotus Smiles Dental in Sunbury has general dentists, oral surgeons, and dentists practicing cosmetic dentistry.
Dentistry refers to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of oral diseases. This medical field is focused on anything that has to do with gums, teeth, and overall dental health.
People who are practicing dentistry are called dentists. They are dental specialists that work on the diagnosis and treatment of a patient that has dental problems. Dentists spend almost 8 years in medical school and dental training to become licensed and professional health workers. They can either have the titles Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine, depends on which category they chose to specialize in. Dentistry comes in different types as well.
Historians believe that dentistry originated from ancient Egypt around 7000 BC. According to research, some ancient Egyptians have undergone tooth replacement back then. Over the years, this branch of the medical field has evolved and reached several parts of the world including China, Japan, and India.
Dentistry was not considered a profession during the 19th century. It didn’t have specific studies and researches that is why tooth extraction was mostly performed by general physicians. It was around the 1650s when modern dentistry gradually developed and emerged. Even though the dental equipment and tools were not as advanced as what we use nowadays, a French surgeon famously known as Pierre Fauchard was able to make exceptional improvements on dental instruments. It was also around this when dental prosthesis and tooth replacement methods were discovered. Dentistry also became an official profession during this time.
Types of Dentists
There are at least 9 branches and types of dentistry and each of them deals with different kinds of dental problems. Cosmetic dentistry, for example, deals with the improvement of the appearance of the patient by fixing their dental issues. Listed below are the different types of the dentist and their expertise:
- General dentist. A huge percentage of dentists are considered general dentists. They are dealing with the overall oral health and hygiene of their patients. They do not just focus on one type of dentistry, instead, they offer multiple services like oral restoration which includes dental bridges, implants, and dentures. General dentists also provide cavity and tooth decay treatments as well as regular dental check-ups, professional dental cleaning, and fluoride treatments. Most of the time, they can also provide cosmetic dentistry services.
- Family dentist. This type of dentist can also offer numerous dental services like general dentists. The only difference is that they treat people according to their stage in life. A specialist can be considered a family dentist if they can treat pregnant women, babies, teens, adults, and people over 60.
- Cosmetic dentist. Cosmetic dentistry doesn’t necessarily deal with dental functions. However, it is still practised to fix the dental appearance of people with problems in their aesthetics. This has become famous over the years because more people are getting concerned about how their smile looks. Cosmetic dentists perform services like teeth whitening, veneers, and gum contouring.
- Oral surgeons. Oral surgeons can be found in a hospital or clinical setting. They are tasked to help patients by performing surgical operations. Patients who are in need of corrective and therapeutic treatments on their mouth are usually recommended to oral surgeons.
- Maxillofacial surgeons. This type of dentist can diagnose and treat and a wide range of dental abnormalities that directly affects the facial skeleton along with the jaws. Maxillofacial surgeons can perform ultramodern procedures that are usually beyond the capability of oral surgeons.
- Pediatric dentist. From the word itself, “pediatric”, this type of dentist deals with the dental conditions of children. They attend to kids as young as infants up to their teenage years to provide treatments and therapies that are suitable for their young age.
- Periodontist. Dentists who are specializing in periodontal diseases are called periodontists. They are responsible for treating, preventing, and diagnosing periodontal diseases. Their expertise includes the treatment of oral inflammation and they are also known to have knowledge on the aesthetics of tissue structure.
- Endodontist. From the root words “endo” which means inside and “odont” which translates to the tooth, endodontists deal with endodontic treatments like root canal procedures. Most endodontists perform surgeries to treat dental pulp diseases.
- Prosthodontist. These dentists usually spend another 3 years to finish a prosthodontist program. Prosthodontic dentistry refers to the restoration of the damaged or missing oral tissues. Their services include dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, and prosthetic aids.
- Orthodontist. This type of dentist commonly deals with misaligned teeth. They treat patients with incorrectly positioned teeth in the jaws and provide solutions to correct the abnormality. Dental conditions like overbites, underbites, crossbites, teeth spaces and overcrowded teeth are treated by orthodontists. Their services include retainers, braces, aligners, and the likes.
Self-medication and self-treatment are not highly recommended when it comes to dealing with dental complications. Our teeth play a huge role not only in keeping our whole facial structure aesthetically pleasing but also in our overall health.
If you are suffering from certain dental problems or issues, it would be best to refer to the list above and see if which of these types of dentists is more suitable for you. Nonetheless, all dentists have gone through special training to be able to provide services in the best way they can.
Becoming A Dentist
Being a dentist is a notable profession and it requires extensive training before one can attain permits to practice and licenses. Everything that they know and do is a culmination of their hard work and perseverance. In order to become a professional dentist, one must be able to finish certain medical degrees, attain a grad school diploma, and accomplished several dental programs. Overall, the training and schooling will take 7 years to complete.
The first step to start a dentistry profession is by enrolling in a three-year bachelor’s degree program in dentistry. However, getting in is not that easy, you will need to meet a high ATAR score which is 99% and you must be able to pass the assessment tests which include essay and panel discussions. Although the rate for English proficiency is not mentioned, being fluent in the said language is a huge plus point.
After you pass the initial assessment, you may be able to enroll yourself in the program given that you maintain a high average score every school year.
Dentistry doesn’t come easy. After finishing the bachelor’s degree program, you’re going to have to enroll for a postgraduate entry and finish another 4 years in medical school. The requirements for getting into medical school are as follows:
- Satisfactory bachelor’s degree GPA
- Passed the med-school assessments
- Garnered a high score in the interviews
- Complete prerequisite requirements
After graduating, it is imperative for you to register yourself on the board of dentistry in your country. This is a very important step as you will not be able to practice dentistry without proper registration. Oftentimes, registrations expire annually and you will have to renew every year.
Becoming a dentist is probably one of the most rewarding professions that one can possess. If you think that dentistry is the right fit for you, start your dentistry program now and decide which type of dentist you want to become.