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3 Dental Specialties You Should Know

By Melissa Sammy
Seeking treatment from the right dental specialist can go a long way in improving oral health and overall well-being. Here are 3 important dental specialties you should know.

More Americans are skipping important medical services, including dental care, compared with just 5 years agoaccording to recent research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Skipping routine dental cleanings and checkups may not seem like a big deal, but regularly-scheduled dental visits can help prevent or diagnose other seemingly unrelated conditions.

With this in mind, here are 3 important dental specialties you should know. 

Periodontist

Have you experienced bleeding gums? Bad breath? Painful chewing? If so, it might be time to see a periodontist. 

According to Mayo Clinic, periodontists specialize in:

  • Diseases involving the gums, mucosal tissues of the mouth, and bones around the teeth
  • Fitting, placing, and maintaining dental implants
  • Bone regeneration
  • Managing the esthetics of gum tissue, teeth, and implants

Periodontics is a leading specialty in the study of oral health and how it affects the body. In fact, periodontists at the University of Birmingham recently discovered that biological imbalance may be the underlying factor in the link between gum disease and chronic kidney disease. Their findings were published in a 2020 article in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

And with evidence tying gum disease to conditions as serious as stroke, the work that periodontists do to keep gums healthy should not be overlooked. 

Endodontist

More than 41,000 root canals are performed annually. And if you ever need one, chances are you’ll see an endodontist. Unlike general dentists, who may also perform this procedure, endodontists specialize in diagnosing tooth pain and performing root canal treatment. 

According to the American Association of Endodontists, endodontists:

  • Have 2-3 years of additional training beyond dental school
  • Perform an average 25 root canal treatments per week (general dentists typically perform fewer than 2 weekly)
  • Bring an expertise in pain management to your treatment

In broader terms, endodontists focus on the health of both the tissues inside of teeth and the tissues surrounding the roots of teeth. Treatment for tooth decay, tooth abscess, and cracked tooth all fall under the endodontists’ repertoire.  

Orthodontist

Although many associate orthodontists with getting braces as a kid, a growing number of adults are seeking care from orthodontists. 

“Research shows that a brighter, straighter smile boosts self-esteem, helping patients feel more confident to smile, laugh, and speak to others without having to hide their teeth,” Reem Abdulrahman, DMD, a New York-based orthodontist at Tend, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “With that boost of confidence, patients form closer connections with others throughout the rest of their lives.” 

Orthodontists correct the position of the teeth and jaws by using specialized bands, wires, and other corrective appliances such as retainers, braces, and teeth aligners—often called “clear” or “invisible” aligners. In addition to crooked teeth, you might see an orthodontist if you have an overbite, underbite, crossbite, misaligned jaw, or, surprisingly, breathing problems.

“Orthodontists have extensive training of the oral and maxillofacial complex. They are trained not only to move and straighten teeth with braces but also to help guide proper growth and development of the upper and lower jaws,” Abdulrahman says. “Snoring, compromised nasal breathing, and...sleep apnea are closely linked to several life-threatening conditions and are many times related to an upper or lower jaw deficiency.” 

According to Abdulrahman, orthodontists can very easily and properly evaluate your orofacial complex (i.e., the muscles of the jaw, lips, tongue, soft palate, and larynx). They use this evaluation to help you obtain the right tests and treatment to correct any jaw discrepancies that may be contributing to problems in your airway.

Start your journey to a more confident smile today!

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