If you’re looking for a cosmetic dentist and aren’t familiar with all the specialties, it can feel overwhelming. After all, so many doctors refer to themselves as a “specialist” in many things, including cosmetic dentistry and implant dentistry, and they may all have different credentials. How can so many people with different backgrounds all be specialists in the same thing? Quite frankly, they can’t, and we’ll break down exactly why that is, so you can find a true expert in cosmetic dentistry for your work.
Even though the field of cosmetic dentistry is huge, and people spend millions of dollars improving the aesthetics of their smiles every year, cosmetic dentistry is not a specialty field recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). In fact, there are no “dental implant specialists” either. While some states forbid dentists from advertising using these terms, most states have no restrictions on them, meaning anyone could call himself a “cosmetic dentist,” as long as he has a license to practice dentistry.
We went over some reasons why people should see specialists in our previous blog, “3 Reasons a Specialist is Best (But Your General Dentist Won’t Admit),” and there is indeed a time and place for each type of specialist, but the question often becomes, “If there aren’t any cosmetic dentists, who do I see?” The ADA recognizes specialists in nine areas of dentistry, and only six of these areas actually involve clinical practice. We’ll break each one down, so you can easily see which type of specialist will have the strongest cosmetic dentistry skills.
Dental Public Health: A person who works in dental public health spends their days educating the public about dental concerns. This is not a term that’s used in a clinical practice.
Endodontics: An endodontist is a root canal specialist. He manages infections and other conditions that relate to the root and pulp of a tooth. You’d need to see an endodontist if you had a tooth infection or pain that didn’t go away after having a crown or filling done.
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology: A pathologist is often called in when a general dentist cannot make a definitive diagnosis about why a patient has a particular condition or is in pain. They diagnose and treat diseases and conditions when other dentists can’t, using biopsies, microscopes, x-rays, and visual exams.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology: The radiologist is responsible for taking and examining dental x-rays. While most general dentists do a fair job of this, a specialist can be beneficial when a case is particularly difficult.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Oral surgeons receive extra training in managing anesthesia as well as performing surgical techniques and helping patients with medical complications. They routinely perform procedures such as extractions, bone grafting, biopsies, and facial surgeries to correct defects or damage caused by trauma.
Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics: Most people are familiar with orthodontists. They generally help people straighten their teeth, but they also have a deep understanding of how a person’s bite works and may make corrections to improve function, as well as aesthetics.
Pediatric Dentistry: Pediatric dentists spend extra time learning how to treat children.
Periodontics: A periodontist receives additional training on how to care for gum tissues. People need to see them if they have advanced periodontal disease (gum disease) and may benefit from seeing a periodontist if they require some kind of tissue grafting as well.
Prosthodontics: Taking information straight from the ADA, a prosthodontist is responsible for the “diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes.” In other words, the only specialist who has the expectation of training in dealing with the appearance of teeth is the prosthodontist. The prosthodontist is also the only specialist who is tasked with replacing missing or deficient teeth.
Whether you want to improve the look of your teeth with cosmetic procedures or want to learn more about missing tooth replacement options, such as dental implants, a prosthodontist is the specialist you should see. Dr. Sergio Rauchwerger is a Harvard-educated prosthodontist, who not only offers general dentistry services, but also performs superior cosmetic work. To schedule a consultation, call 561-798-7807 today.