You may have been only visiting a general dentist, which is enough for most people unless they have special dental needs. However, the truth is that there are several sub-disciplines of dentistry, each dealing with different parts of the dental and facial anatomy or different branches of oral health. For the sake of imparting education and providing services, dentistry has been divided into a number of categories. The exact number of these categories differs from place to place. But all in all, they cover the same subjects. Here, we will be explaining the different types of dentistry based on the specialties recognized by the American Dental Association by approval of the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards.
Dental Public Health
This speciality is especially prominent in the American curriculum compared to that of other countries. It deals with the dental health of the people of a community as a whole. It deals with the advocation of dental health awareness and the importance of healthy dental hygiene practices, prevention and control of dental diseases through individual and collective efforts and improvement of general public dental health.
It deals with the physiology, morphology, and pathology of the pulpo-dentine complex in human teeth and periradicular tissues. It deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the diseases of the dental pulp and the periradicular tissues. A common treatment of dentists in this field that you might be familiar with is root canal treatment.
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
The maxilla refers to the bones and facial parts of the upper jaw. Oral and maxillofacial pathology thus encompasses diseases of the oral and maxillofacial parts that lead to changes in the structure and function of the mouth, especially the upper jaw, their diagnosis and treatment. It deals with the causes of the diseases, the process of advancement, and the resultant effects on the oral structure and functionality.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
Oral and maxillofacial radiology is the field of usage of radiation energy for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the oral and maxillofacial regions. This includes the proper use of standard and panographic X-ray to produce images of the region and interpreting them, and also the use of radiotherapy to treat a disease that warrants it.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Oral and maxillofacial surgery involves the diagnosis and subsequent surgical treatment of diseases, defects, and injuries of the oral and maxillofacial tissues of the face to improve their aesthetic and/or functional state. Common problems tackled by these dentists include infections, lesions, cysts and tumors of the mouth and jaw, severe trauma and injuries and congenital defects of the mouth and jaws like cleft palate and cleft lip.
Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics
This revolves around the diagnosis, treatment, and correction of malocclusion and related skeletal and neuromuscular defects. Malocclusion, in absolute common terms, refers to the misalignment of teeth when the dental arches meet, causing problems like underbite, overbite, crossbite, spacing, crowding, etc. that an orthodontist treats via various surgical and corrective procedures and tools.
Pediatric dentistry deals with dental care, diagnosis, and treatment in children, from infancy to adolescence. The issues of frequent dental problems and growth in children require pediatric dentists to have special skills and knowledge.
Peri means surrounding. Thus, periodontics deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases in the periodontal tissues, which mainly included the gums, jaws, and other supporting structures of the teeth or dentures for their healthy structure and function.
It deals with the diagnosis of oral defects due to missing or damaged teeth or surrounding tissue and the treatment, correction, and maintenance of these by the use of biocompatible prostheses for the restoration of oral health, appearance, comfort, and function. Such defects could arise from congenital defects, diseases, injury, surgery, or age and should be handled accordingly.
All these specialties require postgraduate courses with the granting of a Master’s degree upon completion of the course. There are other sub-categories too that do not require such a degree but only a certification course. These are:
- Cosmetic dentistry – It refers to procedures that reshape oral and dental structures mainly for aesthetic or comfort purposes. These include sculpting, overlay and pinlay procedures, etc.
- Reconstructive dentistry – This involves the reconstruction or reshaping of the dental and facial structure. Dental implants and gum therapy are common procedures in this category.
- Implant dentistry – This is an even more specialized category under reconstructive dentistry that deals specially with dental implants and procedures required to prepare a person for that or help them recover from the implantation procedure.
- Geriatric dentistry – This type of dentistry revolves around providing dental care and treatment to elderly people, especially in relation to age-related dental problems.
- Special needs dentistry – It involves providing specialized dental care and treatment to those with congenital, developmental, or acquired disabilities. The American Dental Association is trying to acquire accreditation for this specialty that is already in effect in many places.
- Oral microbiology – It deals with the microbiology of the oral cavity and the effect and maintenance of the microfloral community of over 600 bacteria species that aids in healthy digestion in the continuity of the microflora of the rest of the gut.
- Oral medicine – It is the dentistry of oral mucosal diseases and their diagnosis and treatment.
- Forensic odontology – A forensic dentist is usually involved in the identification and analysis of dental evidence for forensic purposes.
- Veterinary dentistry – As is apparent from the name, it is the dental diagnosis and treatment of animals.
Someone who wants to be a dentist can either complete the general dentistry from a dental school and become a general dentist, or they can then join a Master’s or certification course in one of these specialties to practise them. At TruCare dentistry, you will get both general dentistry services as well as certain specialized services like implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, periodontal care, children’s dentistry, etc.