A  A  A   Print
Oral Health and Dental SpecialistsEspecialistas en Odontología y Salud Oral

Oral Health and Dental Specialists

What is a general dentist (DDS or DMD)?

Upon graduation from dental school -- to become a general dentist -- a dentist is awarded either a DDS or a DMD degree:

Picture of several different dental instruments

DDS - doctor of dental surgery

DMD - doctor of dental medicine

There is no difference between the two degrees -- both dentists have received the same education and completed the same curriculum requirements set by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation. The difference is merely semantics -- some institutions award a DMD degree, while others award a DDS degree. Generally, three or more years of undergraduate college education plus four years of dental school are required to graduate and become a general dentist. State licensing boards accept either degree as equivalent, and both degrees allow licensed individuals to practice the same scope of general dentistry.

Specialized areas of dentistry

Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist. Dental/oral health specialists include the following:

  • Pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist is a specialist in the field of dentistry, which includes oral health care for children from infancy through the teenage years. In guiding children and teens through their dental growth and development, pediatric dentists often work closely with pediatricians, family physicians, and other dental specialists in providing comprehensive medical and dental care.

  • Endodontist. Also called pulp specialists, endodontists have undergone specialized training in performing root canal therapy. This particular branch of dentistry is concerned with the morphology, physiology, and pathology of the human dental pulp (the soft tissue between the tooth's outer enamel and the dentin) and periradicular tissues -- including the prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.

  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are orthopedic facial surgeons responsible for treating a wide variety of dental problems -- including the removal of impacted teeth and reconstructive facial surgery. This dental specialty also includes the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, injuries, and defects involving both functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. Many oral surgery training programs offer both an oral surgery certificate and a medical degree in the 6-7 year dual training program.

  • Oral pathologist. Oral pathologists diagnose and manage diseases of the oral and maxillofacial structures using clinical, microscopic, radiographic and other means.

  • Public health dentist. Public health dentists help to prevent and control dental diseases on a community-wide basis. They administer community-based dental health programs and provide dental health education.

  • Oral radiologist. Oral radiologists produce and interpret images produced by radiant energy used for the diagnosis and management of diseases of the oral and maxillofacial area.

  • Orthodontist. Orthodontists are specially-trained dentists who specialize in the development, prevention, and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite, and jaws. Orthodontists also have specialized training in facial abnormalities and disorders of the jaw. A patient often consults an orthodontist after receiving a referral from his/her general dentist.

  • Periodontist. Periodontists are responsible for the care and prevention of gum-related diseases, guided bone regeneration, and dental implants. It is the specialty of dentistry that includes the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes, and the maintenance of the health, function, and esthetics of these structures and tissues.

  • Prosthodontist. Prosthodontists are dental specialists who have undergone additional training and certification in the restoration and replacement of broken teeth or missing teeth with crowns, bridges, implants, or removable prosthetics (dentures). It is the branch of dentistry that also specializes in understanding the dynamics of the smile, preserving a healthy mouth, and creating tooth replacements. Prosthodontists often work closely with other members of the oral health care team in restoring natural teeth, replacing missing teeth, and/or developing artificial substitutes for damaged oral and maxillofacial tissues. In addition, prosthodontists also have specialized training in the following:

    • Post oral cancer reconstruction

    • Jaw joint problems (i.e., temporomandibular joint disorder)

    • Traumatic injuries of the mouth

    • Snoring and sleeping disorders

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.