There seems to be a prevailing fear of visiting the dentist. Some might feel uncomfortable with the intrusion into an area as private as their mouth via cold, steel instruments, while others find the drilling sound of the dental instruments terrifying.
However, dentists are not to be feared and viewed as a necessary evil. In fact, a visit to the dentist is highly beneficial, as they are the guardians of your oral health – to protect and care for your teeth and gums. They remove the pesky plaque that even the most fervent and frequent of brushing cannot dislodge; they polish your teeth for that glossy, gleaming picture ready smile and they ensure that any painful and possibly unsightly oral problems are treated.
Beyond the basic teeth scaling and polishing, however, are many other specialist functions dentists perform that few are aware of.
Here are five different types of dental specialists that you may encounter in your next visit to the dentist.
Endodontists are colloquially known as “Teeth Saving Specialists”. The term “Endodontic” comes from the Greek terms, “endo” meaning “inside” and “odont” meaning “teeth”. Hence, endodontists specialise in treatments that concern the soft tissues inside the teeth, also known as the pulp.
Endodontists receive an extra two to three years of training in dentistry school.
The most common treatment administered by endodontists: root canal therapy.
This treatment involves the removal of pulp tissues of the teeth in cases of infection or inflammation due to problems such as severe tooth decay, severe gum disease or a tooth fracture.
Root canal therapy saves teeth that would otherwise have been extracted. The pulpless tooth would then be sealed with gutta-percha, an inert material, and restored to its full glory with a crown or a permanent filling.
2. Pedodontists / Pediatric Dentist
As the name suggests, Pedodontists or Pediatric Dentists are specialist dentists dedicated to infants and young children. Unlike adults, who are able to sit still and allow dentists to administer treatment, children tend to be more restless, fearful and have miniscule attention spans. Pediatric Dentists are trained to handle children with care, and in manners that allow them to feel at ease.
The dental clinics of pediatric dentists are also often tailored to appeal to children, such as being colourfully decorated to portray an inviting atmosphere for the children.
It is advised that parents take their children to their first dental visit by their first birthday to reduce the risk of contracting early childhood cavities. In the hands of the well trained pediatric dentists, parents can rest assured that their children’s oral health are taken care off.
Of all the dental specialists, an orthodontist may be the specialist that most are familiar with. Orthodontists specialise in treating facial dental irregularities such as overbites (when your top teeth extend beyond your bottom teeth and underbites (when your bottom teeth extend beyond your top teeth). Simply put, they correct misalignments in your teeth and/or your jaw into a pleasing arch that to achieve that proportionally perfect smile via braces.
There are many ways in which the misalignments may be corrected, and the most suitable treatment depends on type and severity of the deformity. With the advancement of technology, patients can now choose from an array of treatment options. The frequently debated question from patients is the choice between the mental braces and the newer “invisible” braces. Both types of treatment yield the same, positive results; although the processes, looks, and costs vary.
A beautiful smile includes not only pearly whites, but also healthy, pink gums! Known as the “plastic surgeons of dentistry”, periodontists are specialists in caring for the health of your gums to ensure that your gums remain in the pink of health!
Beyond treating gum disease, periodontists ensure that your gums, jaw bone and connective gum tissue function at their optimum capacity. They focus on the treatment of diseases that affect the gums by remodelling soft tissue, or in grave cases, reshaping the jaw bone. This is because if the gum disease is left untreated, not only will the patient stand to lose a tooth, but also a part of his jawline.
If endodontists are “teeth savers” and periodontists are the “plastic surgeons” of dentists, then prosthodontists are “architects” of smiles. They undergo a few additional years of training to dedicate themselves to restoring your entire smile.
The term “prosthodontist”, when broken down, refers to “prosthesis” which means addition, and “odont” tooth. This encapsulates the job description of prosthodontists well. They reconstruct and replace teeth to their full glory. Prosthodontists are needed when there is tooth loss or the presence of dental cavities. In such cases, the patient’s ability to chew is impaired. Additionally, the visual appearance of the patient’s smile is compromised. Hence, prosthodontists administer a variety of treatment such that the patients can be picture ready anytime.
Your Dentist Squad
With a deeper knowledge of the areas of specialization of dentists, you can now be better informed about the type of specialist to consult should the need arise. Say goodbye to uncomfortable dental visits – these dentists are here to save your teeth!
Together, these dentists form the superhero squad to protect your teeth from disease and decay!
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