Dentists – Beyond Basic Care
Dentistry is very important to good overall health care. General practitioners in the field of dentistry have learned the procedures and techniques to maintain good their health, and most healthy patients will only need to visit their dentist two times per year for a basic checkup and teeth cleaning. However, there are specialists who are trained for more complicated care and procedures.
Each of the nine fields of dentistry must have a basic dentistry education from an accredited Dental school. This education covers basic dental techniques including tooth extraction, teeth cleaning, and fill in cavities. The dental school coursework will prepare students for a two part exam. The first two years of coursework will cover theoretical techniques and anatomy. Students must take and pass a board exam, which covers the first part of their education, before they can move on to the final two years of their education. The second part of dental school includes hands-on training alongside a practicing dentist. Similar to the first two years or coursework, students must pass the second part of the dental board exam to qualify for graduation. Upon successful completion of the dentistry coursework, students are awarded a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. However, they must take and pass a dental licensing exam before they are permitted to practice independently. Dentist who would like to practice any of the dental specialties must then go on to complete additional post-graduate coursework to prepare them for advanced dental studies.
Geriatric and Pediatric dentistry are the most common dental specialties because these dentists serve all patients within a certain age group. However, orthodontics, periodontics, and maxillofacial surgeons are equally as important because they address complicated oral issues. Although a DDS has basic training in each of these specialized areas, they will refer their patients for more complicated procedures, and to prevent any further complications. Orthodontists are educated and trained to correct dentofacial defects, this includes a disproportionate jaw and tooth irregularities; most patients will visit an orthodontist for cosmetic purposes. Periodontists have special training to treat the supporting tooth structures such as the gums and periodontal ligaments. Some of the most common procedures for periodontists include root canals and the diagnoses and treatment of gum disease. A general practice dentist may refer their patient to a periodontist to diagnose the cause of bleeding gums, or a tooth ache. Maxillofacial surgeons specialize in surgery to correct injuries, diseases, and defects of the skull, face, jaw, and mouth. Many times a medical doctor (MD) will combine their education with education and training in maxillofacial surgery.
Although most patients will only visit a dentist twice a year for a basic check-up and teeth cleaning, the field of dentistry is wide-ranging with many specialties. While general practice dentists have a wide-range of basic skills that can handle procedures beyond basic oral care, the nine specialties of dentistry include everything from cosmetic tooth procedures, to complicated surgeries to treat pathological oral disease.
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