Whether you have a problem with your teeth’ alignment or you want to find relief for your on and off tooth pain, rest assured that your dentist in Pennsylvania can treat it. But, if you start poring over directories you might get surprised when you discover that there are different types of dentists and their specializations vary.
Just like in medicine, if you have a heart problem you go to a cardiologist and if you have a lung problem you go to a pulmonologist. In the dental world, dentists are given options to choose what branch of dentistry they want to specialize in. Let’s explore these specializations in dentistry so that the next time you complain about something you’ll know who to call.
General and Family Dentistry
We’re all familiar with a general dentist or a family dentist. This is the dentist that the American Dental Association urges you to see once every six months to have your teeth examined and professionally cleaned. General and family dentists provide preventive and restorative dental treatments. Some of the services they offer include tooth extractions, fillings, crown placement, x-rays, routine teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments, and many more. General dentists also provide patient education. During your visits, they’ll likely teach you how to better care for your oral health by showing you the right way to brush and floss your teeth.
When your teeth are severely crooked, overcrowded, if you have large tooth gaps, and if you suffer from malocclusion or a bad bite, your general dentist will refer you to an orthodontist. Orthodontics is another branch of dentistry that specializes in making your teeth straight and correcting malocclusion. Some of the treatment options in orthodontics include metal braces and clear aligners. The results are not instant. It takes time to shift your teeth and correct a bad bite.
For a successful treatment, your orthodontist is going to require your cooperation. Once the device is installed in your mouth, you’ll be asked to come back several times a year to have your braces or aligners adjusted. These adjustments are crucial to moving your teeth until they reach proper alignment. Contrary to popular belief, orthodontic treatments are not just for aesthetic purposes. Interestingly, they also improve your oral function by restoring your bite.
Prosthodontics is a branch in dentistry that specializes in restoring and maintaining oral functionality by replacing lost teeth with artificial teeth through prostheses. Patients can choose between removable and fixed dental prostheses. Examples are bridges, crowns, and dentures.
During your consultation, your prosthodontist will explain your options based on your needs, specifications, budget, and lifestyle. Make sure to ask for the pros and cons of each type so you’ll know what to expect. You will also be taught how to properly care for your dental prostheses. One of the reasons why dentures and bridges get damaged easily is because people do not know how to care for them. Make the most of your investment by taking responsibility and making sure your prostheses are well taken care of.
Your tooth enamel is a strong tissue but once it gets compromised, bacteria can travel and make their way into the dental pulp causing irritation, inflammation, and infection. Unfortunately, this can lead to severe tooth pain. In such a case, the best person to treat you is an endodontist. Endodontists specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases that affects the periapical tissue, root, and tooth pulp. If you have an infected dental pulp, your endodontist will remove the decayed pulp tissues, clean and disinfect the ear, reshape the canal and fill it with a substance called gutta-percha. It will then be sealed to maintain its strength and function. In other words, your endodontist aims to preserve your tooth rather than extract it.
It doesn’t mean that if you see an orthodontist you’re not going to need the services of another dental specialist. It will vary depending on your needs. But, the mainstay should be your general or family dentist. Seeing your general dentist is a form of preventive dental care to keep your teeth and gums healthy. However, you can’t just rely your oral health to your dentist. You should also do your part at home. Brush your teeth two times a day for two minutes and use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride-based toothpaste. Also, don’t forget to floss once daily before bedtime. Last but not least, be mindful of your food choices. Even if you frequently visit your dentist, if you’re mindlessly eating sugary and starchy foods, cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease are not far off.