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When you think of dentistry, your family dental office may come first to mind. A visit to the dentist will often include teeth cleanings and preventive checkups, but the profession expands much further, and your general dentist is just one specialty in the field of dentistry.
In honor of National Dental Hygiene Month, which is observed every October, we’ve outlined the most common types of dentists and dental specialists to help you make better-informed choices about specific dental concerns and when to see each one.
General dentists (also known as a family dentist) are primary oral health providers, and the most common type of dentist. They play a critical role promoting good oral health habits and preventing dental issues by early detection and treatment of any conditions that could become more serious and costly down the road.
Their main responsibilities include routine cleanings, X-rays, and educating patients about proper oral hygiene practices. General dentists are also responsible for restorative oral care such as treating tooth decay by replacing with fillings, repairing cracked, chipped, or missing teeth, and whitening services.
Finally, dentists can also address issues caused by gum disease and root issues. They can help guide you down the path of getting braces, mouthguards, dentures, and other treatments. While general dentists can treat most conditions and may have significant experience in specialty care, they will often provide referrals to a specific type of dental specialist if needed.
Orthodontists focus on the alignment of teeth and jaws and treatment aims to improve the cosmetic appearance and functionality of the teeth and jaws. If you have an overbite, underbite, crossbite, or misaligned teeth, you may be referred to an orthodontist for correction. Orthodontists can custom design oral hardware such as braces, alignment trays, mouthguards, headgear, and retainers that correct developmental issues.
Endodontists specifically deal with issues affecting the nerve of a tooth and the pain associated with it. They perform both routine and complex endodontic procedures, including root canal treatments, endodontic surgery, and special procedures to save teeth after traumatic dental injuries. Endodontists can also help manage tooth pain and save teeth where decay has reached the pulp and has become infected.
Periodontists focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum diseases and the supporting structures of the teeth. They treat conditions ranging from mild gingivitis to more severe gum disease also known as periodontitis. Additionally, periodontists are trained in the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants. If you have a chronic or serious gum disease problem, you may want to schedule an appointment with a periodontist.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform surgical procedures involving the mouth, jaw, and face. Some of the problems they treat include routine and complex tooth extraction, surgical correction of misaligned jaws, biopsy and removal of tumors, cysts, and lesions of the jaw and mouth, jaw trauma, head and neck cancer, and dental implant surgery.
Routine dental visits and standard preventive care are crucial for several reasons, including:
It’s important to review the details of your dental benefits details to see if it covers things like orthodontic services, oral surgery, or other treatments. If you have questions, it’s best to talk to your dentist to understand your coverage and avoid any unexpected costs.
TruAssure makes finding a dentist near you easy with our ‘Find A Provider’ search tool. This tool can help you search for in-network dentists that are covered under your dental benefits plan.
Need a dentist near home, work or your kids' school? With one of the largest networks in the country, we make it easy to find a dentist who fits your location and your schedule.
*All TruAssure dental plans, other than Basic and Preferred dental plans, are offered in association with the DenteMax Plus dental network arrangement, which includes participating dentists from the United Concordia, DenteMax and Connection dental networks in all states but North Carolina, where the DenteMax Plus network arrangement includes DenteMax and Connection dental networks. TruAssure Basic and Preferred dental plans are offered in association with the DenteMax dental network.
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