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Different Types of Dentists: A Guide to Finding the Right Dental Professional

A guide on how to find the right dental professional to correct oral health issues and maintain a beautiful smile. Learn about dentists, orthodontists, and more.
A top dentist in the United States treating the teeth of a patient.

We all love to receive a friendly, bright smile from family, friends, and even strangers. And we also love to reciprocate. Beyond its contribution to our overall health, good oral health plays an important role in our interactions with people each and every day. It’s no wonder some spend so much time becoming educated and trained in caring for oral health.

Knowing the right dental professional to seek out when we encounter oral health problems will ensure that we keep our smile bright and beautiful for a long time to come. The evidence is in—it shows that practicing good oral hygiene is an investment in overall health for the present and well into the future.

This article focuses on helping you to find and choose the right dental professional to care for your oral health needs.

What Is a Dental Specialist?

A dental specialist is an oral healthcare provider who received specialized training after dental school, much like other medical specialists. Dental specialties are recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards (NCRDSCB).

Dentistry is a vast field encompassing various dental specialists who focus on different aspects of oral health care. Understanding these dental professionals and the dental treatments they offer can help you make informed decisions about your oral health needs.

Let’s explore the different types of dentists and their roles in maintaining your dental health.

General Dentists

A general dentist is your primary care dental provider, responsible for routine dental exams, oral health maintenance, and treatment of common dental issues. General dentists offer services like dental cleanings, fillings, and routine dental care to ensure your overall dental health.

Pediatric Dentist

Pediatric dentists specialize in youth dental care, offering expertise in oral development and treating dental problems in children and teenagers. A children’s dentist can create a comfortable and child-friendly environment to promote good oral health habits from an early age.


Orthodontists are dental specialists who focus on misaligned teeth and jaw irregularities. A skilled orthodontist will use dental treatments like Invisalign clear aligners and traditional braces to correct teeth alignment and improve both dental health and appearance.


Periodontists are experts in gum health, diagnosing and treating gum diseases like periodontal disease. Expert periodontists provide treatments such as scaling and root planing to control dental diseases affecting the gums and supporting tissues. While most of their work is to treat gum disease, they will sometimes perform cosmetic skin grafting on gums.


Endodontists specialize in performing root canals to save natural teeth that have experienced severe tooth decay or traumatic dental injuries. A local endodontist focuses on the dental pulp and root canal system, helping patients retain their natural teeth.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Oral surgeons specialize in complex dental surgery involving the face, jaw, and mouth. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform procedures such as wisdom tooth extractions, placement of dental implants, and corrective oral jaw surgeries to treat various oral health problems.


Prosthodontists are dental specialists in restorative dentistry, focusing on replacing missing or extracted teeth. A prosthodontist can provide dental crowns, bridges, and dental implants to restore function and appearance. They generally work at replacing missing teeth on a larger scale than a normal dentist.

Dental Anesthesiologist

Dental anesthesiologists have advanced training in administering anesthesia during dental treatments to ensure patient safety and comfort during complex dental procedures.

Oral Medicine Specialist

Oral medicine specialists diagnose and treat oral diseases and conditions that affect the oral cavity. They play a crucial role in identifying oral cancers and managing oral health problems.

Dental Public Health Specialists

Dental public health specialists work to promote dental health on a community level, conducting dental research, developing policies, and implementing outreach programs to improve oral health across populations.

Cosmetic Dentist

Cosmetic dentistry focuses on enhancing the appearance of a patient’s smile through various aesthetic treatments such as teeth whitening, dental veneers, and cosmetic bonding. While their primary goal is cosmetic improvement, they also consider the overall oral health of their patients.

Find a Local Dental Professional Today!

Understanding the roles of different types of dentists and dental specialists is essential for maintaining optimal oral health. Regular visits to the dentist, routine cleanings, and early intervention for dental issues contribute to overall patient health and prevent more extensive dental problems in the future.

Embrace the care provided by dental professionals to ensure a healthy smile and a pain-free oral experience. Remember, good oral health leads to a healthier and happier life!

If you want to find a local dental professional in your area, feel free to use the free dental directory provided by Dental Fee Fairy. Our dental listings can help you find the specialized dental care you need!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find some of the most commonly asked questions about dentists and dental specialists.

What Happens at a Regular Dental Check-Up?

A regular dental visit includes a check-up and a cleaning. During the check-up, a dentist will review your overall oral health with the aim of pinpointing any problems. The cleaning includes the removal of any build-up of plaque or tartar. They may also polish your teeth at this time.

What Should I Do in Between Dental Visits?

It is crucial to maintain the health of your teeth and gums in between regular dental visits. The first step is to brush your teeth at least twice daily, using a toothpaste that has fluoride included in the ingredients.

Next—floss! This is one step of the oral health routine that often gets ignored. However, flossing helps to get rid of food debris and bacteria in areas that brushing alone cannot access.

Finally, using mouthwash is prudent to help control the build-up of plaque bacteria, and using it has the added bonus of keeping your breath fresh!

When Should I Seek a Dental Specialist?

Regular, periodic cleaning and check-up are important for overall oral health. However, your dental routine may occasionally not suffice to maintain your oral health.

You may be involved in an accident that damages the structure of your teeth or jaw. You may have an inherited disorder of the teeth or gums. Whatever the case may be, this would be the opportune time to seek out a dental specialist to help fix the problem.