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Which Dental Professional Is Best for You?

The American Dental Association recognizes seven different specialties, where different care providers cater to different clinical needs. Find out which care provider is best for you!

Oral Surgeons

An Oral surgeons is a dental specialist who diagnoses and operates on disease, injury and defects in the mouth, jaw and face through surgical extraction and reconstruction. After four years of dental school, oral surgeons complete a specialization and residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, which may take between 4 and 6 years, depending on the program (dual degree programs combining an MD degree typically take longer). Procedures commonly performed by oral surgeons are the removal of wisdom teeth,  the surgical repair of bone defects and the correction of abnormalities in the face and jaw, and the placement of dental implants.


Periodontists are specialists primarily concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving gums and bone structures, which support the teeth. Some of these diseases include gingivitis and periodontitis, which can lead to the loss of bone structure and eventually tooth loss. To become a periodontist, after four years of dental school, the dentist must complete a residency in Periodontology, typically lasting 3 years, and pass board examinations. Periodontists offer numerous procedures including soft tissue grafting, the removal of infected tissue around teeth and implants, and the placement of dental implants.


Prosthodontists are specialists who are mainly concerned with the restoration and maintenance of oral functions through the replacement of missing teeth and structures by prosthesis. Following completion of a four year dental degree, prosthodontists complete a residency of 3 years. A prosthodontist commonly replaces missing teeth with permanent fixtures such as crowns and bridges, or with removable fixtures such as dentures. In some cases, prosthodontists also place dental implants.

General Dentists

General dentists (also known as General Practitioners or GPs) are primary care providers who diagnose, treat, and manage overall oral health care needs. General dentists typically go into practice following the completion of four years in dental school and appropriate licensures.  Procedures commonly performed by general dentists include annual cleanings, preventative and routine gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, and general preventative education.


Orthodontists specialize in diagnosing, intercepting and correcting dental and facial irregularities. Normally this is accomplished with the use of braces or other appliances to correct impairments resulting from malposition/ malformed teeth or their supporting structures. After four years of dental school, orthodontists complete additional, specialized training lasting 2-3 years. Most people get treated for orthodontic issues as teenagers, because dental movement is easier during growth.However, Orthodontists may also treat adult patients. When dental movement is combined with surgical procedures (typically performed by oral surgeons or periodontists), results may be obtained in very short periods of time.


An Endodontists is a dental specialist who is primarily concerned with the cause, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries that affect the pulp and root of a tooth. To become an endodontist, after four years of dental school, dentists must complete a residency in Endodontics, typically lasting 2 years, One of the most common procedures performed by endodontists is a root canal, where the doctor removes the nerve and blood supply from injured or infected teeth in an attempt to eliminate pain while preserving teeth.


Implantologists (or Implant Dentists) are dental professionals who have pursued further education in oral implantology, a discipline that focuses on the rehabilitation of dental function and esthetics through the placement of dental implants when natural teeth have been lost. Implantology is not a formally recognized dental specialty, and is rather an area of concentration in which dentists can be trained and certified.