Dentists and Other Oral Health Care Providers
An oral pathologist is the oral health care provider who studies the causes of diseases that alter or affect the oral structures (teeth, lips, cheeks, jaws) as well as parts of the face and neck. Oral pathologists examine and provide a diagnosis of the biopsy, tissue, or lesion sent to them by other oral health care providers.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is the oral health care provider who performs many types of surgical procedures in and about the entire face, mouth, and jaw area. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat accident victims who suffer facial injuries and offer reconstructive and dental implant surgery. They treat patients with tumors and cysts of the jaws. They also place dental implants. The types of surgeries an oral surgeon may perform include: simple tooth extractions, complex extractions involving removal of soft tissue or overlying bone or remaining roots, impacted teeth (especially wisdom teeth) removal, soft tissue biopsies, removal of tumors in the oral cavity, implant positioning, complex jaw realignment surgeries involving facial or bite discrepancies, fractured cheek or jaw bone repair and soft tissue (cleft palate or lip) repair. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons receive anywhere from 4 to 8 years of additional training after dental school.
An orthodontist is the oral health care provider who specializes in diagnosis, prevention, interception, and treatment of malocclusions, or "bad bites," of the teeth and surrounding structures. Malocclusions can result from crowded, missing, or extra teeth or jaws that are out of alignment. This specialist is responsible for straightening teeth by moving them through bone by the use of bands, wires, braces, and other fixed or removable corrective appliances or retainers. This specialist treats children as well as adults who may wish to improve their appearance and bite.
A pediatric dentist is the oral health care provider who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the dental problems of children from the age of one or two to early adulthood. This dentist can detect, treat, or refer (as needed) problems with decayed, missing, crowded, or crooked teeth. A pediatric dentist has at least two additional years of training beyond dental school. The additional training focuses on management and treatment of a child's developing teeth, child behavior, physical growth and development, and the special needs of children's dentistry.