You may have noticed the three letters after your dentist name, DDS or DMD. Your same dentist may also referred you to a specialist. So what's the deal with all of these different types of dentists and how do you know which to visit for your particular needs. Not to worry, we are here to help. Find out about all the different types of dentists what it means for you as a patient.
DDS vs. DMD
Most often when you go to the dentist, you are seeing a general dentist. General dentist can either be a DDS or a DMD. A dentist with a DDS has earned their Doctor of Dental Surgery degree; one with a DMD has earned their Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. To earn DDS or DMD credentials a doctor must have to complete three or more years of undergraduate studies followed by four years of dental school.
You may be asking yourself what is the difference. The truth is, they are the same. Both a DDS and a DMD are types of dentists who have the same degrees – the difference in title is due to the university they attended and how that university recognizes the profession. Both must complete the same course studies, a written exam, and a licensing exam to practice dentistry.
Both of DMD and DDS dentists are considered general dentists and are your primary provider who treats your overall dental care needs. This includes diagnosing and treating oral health issues such as gum disease, cavities, root canals, crowns, and bridges as well as preventative care.
Sometimes your dental needs may require your general dentist to refer you to a dental specialist. Dental specialists have completed an additional two to four years of training that focused on a specific side of dentistry. Here are the most common types of dental specialists are.
Pediatric Dentist or Pedodontist – Dentists who work exclusively with children.
Orthodontist – A patient is referred to an orthodontist when a general dentist notices misalignment with the jaw and/or teeth of both children and adults. If there are extra teeth, missing teeth, or teeth are crowded, an orthodontist will treat the patient with solutions like braces, Invisalign and/or retainers. children can be referred to an orthodontist at an early age.
Oral Surgeon – an oral surgeon specializes in the surgical treatment of disease, injuries and aesthetic or functional areas of the mouth. They remove wisdom teeth, handle dental implants and biopsy suspicious spots in the mouth. Oral Surgeons also have additional training in anesthesia to ensure the comfort of the patient when surgery is required.
Endodontist – Specialists who have received training to help address tooth pain while saving the natural teeth by performing root canal treatment – a procedure that treats the infected tissues within a tooth. In fact, the word “endodontic” comes from the Greek word “endo” meaning “inside” and “odont” meaning tooth.
Periodontist – a periodontist is a dental specialist that focuses on caring for your gums and the supporting tissues and structure around your teeth. In most cases, a referral to a periodontist is made to help patients treat advanced periodontal (gum) disease. They also are trained to place dental implants.
Prosthodontist – this dental specialist focuses on helping patients restore and/or replace lost or damaged teeth. Their goal is to look at all of the elements related to helping a patient achieve a functional, natural looking smile. Some of the treatment they perform can include dental implants, bridges & dentures.
While it may seem like an inconvenience to visit a dental specialist, it is in your best interest to to do so when referred. Just like you wouldn’t visit your primary care physician for hip replacement surgery, a specialist has the additional training and experience to provide you with specialized treatment to help you achieve optimal dental health.
So there you have it, the types of dentists explained. Remember, your general dentist will always be your primary point of contact to help you with your dental care needs. Do you need a new general dentist? Think you need a referral to a dental specialist? Find a Gentech Dentist near you and schedule your next dental appointment!