Family Dentist Portland —How to Find the Right Dental Specialist
Unless you're a dentist yourself or perhaps a doctor, specializations in dentistry will be difficult to figure out. The titles for dentistry specialists provide little clue to someone outside the med school circle. Below is a simple but comprehensive guide on these specializations.
This is the dentist you're looking for if you need a routine checkup, regular/routine teeth cleaning, simple extractions, simple root canal and non-surgical therapy for your gums. Before going to a specialist, you will need to see a general dentist first for the assessment and examination of any oral disease. When the case is severe, they usually refer their patients to a specialist for a more comprehensive treatment. Your general dentist should have earned a four-year-college course and a four-year post graduate dental program.
The periodontium is the tissue that holds your teeth. Usually, problems with this tissue lead to bleeding gums and bad breath. Periodontists are also experts in jaw problems connected to the cementum and periodontal ligaments. Depending on the severity of your case, you might be referred by your general dentist to this specialist. However, general dentists can usually treat mild cases of bad breath and gingivitis (bleeding gums), or help you prevent them.
In addition to the certifications required of a general dentist, a periodontist also needs an ADA approved certification. Recertification is also needed every three years. You should check if your specialist was able to get a recertification.
A cosmetic dentistry is a dentist who is an expert improving the appearance of your teeth. These cosmetic changes include teeth whitening, enamel shaping, contouring or tooth reshaping, gum lifts, veneers, dental bridges, etc.
Endodontics and Root Canal Dentistry
Endodontists are called in to oversee especially difficult root canal procedures. This occurs when the patient has an unusual anatomy or has a blocked or narrow root canal. These dentists are required to have an extra two- or three-year-training after their postgraduate dentist schooling. They are the only ones accredited to carry out a periradicular surgery or a reversed root canal.
If you check the ADA listings, implant dentistry is not yet currently considered as a formal specialization. However, implants are becoming more and more popular. Implants are used as an alternative to dentures. While still man-made, implants are affixed to the mouth permanently. A general dentist still assesses the need and probability of having implants installed, but an expert implant surgeon is usually called in for the procedure.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (also referred to as TMJD or TMD) is the scientific term for the chronic swelling of the tissue which connects your skull and your jaw. This pain can impair you from opening and closing your mouth because of stiffness or severe pain. TMJ may sometimes include ringing in the ears, dizziness, neck and back pain, migraines, and ear aches. Splints and skull/muscle assessments are done by TMJ experts to alleviate the pain.
Oral surgery concerns any surgical procedure in the mouth, skull, face, and other associated facial structures. General dentists usually refer their patients to oral surgeons when the surgery required is for cancer in the head or neck, facial cosmetic surgery, repairs for cleft lips or palate, any surgery concerning the craniofacial area, or severe skeletal and soft tissue injuries to the head, face and neck area.
A person has sleep apnea if s/he has long pauses in between breaths while sleeping. This is normally experienced by individuals with respiratory infections. However, a dentist which specializes in sleep apnea treatments is called in when the case is chronic. A special splint in the mandibular (jaw) area will be installed depending on the severity of the sleep disorder. People who snore in their sleep also consult this expert.
People with improper bites, or who are generally unhappy with the structure (but not the color) of their teeth should see dentists who specialize in orthodontics. This specialization covers dental displacement as well as the controlling or modification of your teeth's growth so they don't affect your facial features negatively.
A pedodontist is basically a pediatric dentist. Not all dentists are trained to care for a small child's mouth. Aside from the special skills required to treat smaller teeth, pedodontists are also trained to win children's trust and teach them about proper dental health.
Prosthodontics or Full Mouth Rejuvenation
Prosthodontics probably has the widest scope of expertise among all dentistry specializations because it covers aesthetic, implant and restorations procedures. A prosthodontist is called in to treat full mouth reconstructions, complex head and neck cosmetic procedures, congenital dental disorders, and severe cases of TMJ and sleep apnea. They are the elite group of general dentists.
You will be referred by your general dentist to a neuromuscular specialist if you have TMJ that is caused by nerve or muscle damage. Symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, jaw locking and more. Bell's Palsy is also treated by a neuromuscular dentist.
Neuromuscular orthodontists are experts in non-surgical treatments for TMJ. They consider the relation not only of the muscles and the nerves in the face, but also of the skull's structure, especially along the jaws. They're the specialists you should see if you're having braces installed to correct TMJ.
An Invisalign ® certification only requires a day of training, and most general dentists with no orthodontic specialization can be certified to use this technology. An Invisalign ® is used as an alternative to metal braces. It is clear and could be removed. It is usually worn by patients to control the growth of their teeth, and to correct their bite.
This is the expert you should see if you wish to replace lost teeth with dentures. Dentures, unlike implants, are removed when not in use. You should see this specialist if you do not wish to have implants as teeth replacements.
A dentist who specializes in sedation dentistry is an expert in treating dental patients who have had a traumatic experience on the dentist's chair. They offer calmer alternatives to dental treatments to help patients overcome their fear. They also provide painless treatments for extractions and other corrective procedures.