Dental Specialties Explained

This article will explain what is involved in dental specialties and what the specialists can provide. A person has to meet qualifications to be labeled a specialist. This is governed by each dentist’s licensing body.

A general practitioner has a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from an accredited university. Both degrees are similar, neither implies a superiority in studies. As well they have to attained a certificate at the national level and in some cases they have to have exam certification at the Provincial or State level.

An Endodontist is certified through post graduate studies in the area of root canal therapy and is registered in this specialty according to licensing requirements. Most general practitioners are trained in basic root canal treatment but they often refer more challenging cases to these specialists. When I refer patients to any specialist I take care to explain to my patients that I am not referring them because I don’t want to see them; but, in fact, it is because I want them to received the finest treatment possible and at times cases present that may require more expertise.

A Paedodontist is a children’s specialist. They are trained in sedation techniques in most cases, as young children may need to have more than just local anesthesia to have treatment performed. A nice option is to use nitrous oxide which is known colloquially,as “Laughing gas”. It acts like a mild tranquilizer enabling the patient to perform dental services. In severe cases the Paedodontist will use intravenous sedation. This is an anaesthetic injected into the veins of the patient. It has to be administered with care and usually. Some feel they want to “go to sleep ” while being treated. But it could cause serious problems. As a result there are many precautions taken and often a nurse is present. With increased awareness of oral hygiene procedures most children have sufficient home care to avoid major problems. But, some children are not properly supervised and have considerable dental problems. A serious problem occurs when children are given a bottle of milk before bed. The milk will cause tooth breakdown. Paedodontist often perform orthodontic treatment as well as regular restorations. As well they will do extraction treatment.

Orthodontists are dental specialists who are trained in the movement of teeth. Some people have crowding, others have severe spacing. In most cases the correction of these conditions are esthetic in nature. But in many instances a ‘malocclusion’ or a misaligned bite, can cause severe functional problems in addition to poor appearance.. I do not do orthodontic treatment and I rejoice in the great results they provide my patients. When I graduated it was felt that orthodontics cannot be performed on patients over 15. Now I regularly refer patients who are even in their 60’s, with great results.

Endodontists are specialists who do root canal treatment. When a tooth dies due to trauma, severe decay, or a long standing deep filling, the nerve in the tooth may die. It is a wise decision to preserve the tooth. An Endodontist will remove the nerve tissue and allow the patient to retain the tooth. I do most of my root canal treatments; but, there are instances where the intervention of a specialist is ideal.

Oral Surgeons are specialists who perform surgery as the name implies. They do challenging extractions, take tissue biopsies when there is a suspicious lesion. As well they do sinus surgery and in some interesting surgery they will correct ‘mal-collusions”. The latter are cases when a person may have a protruding or receding chin. This usually involves sectioning the lower jaw and moving it and anchoring it in a retruded or advanced position. They also can place “implants” to create a ‘chin’. Oral surgeons also place the implants on which crowns are added. Implants are a great addition to our practices. They are titanium and the bone sees them as part of the body structure. After the implant is integrated by the tissue we complete the treatment by taking very accurate impressions and place crowns on the structures the laboratories produce with the impressions. It is a very satisfying and well researched procedure.

Oral Pathologists are specialists who evaluate, microscopically, tissue samples they receive from dentists. Some lesions can have serious consequences so this specialty is particularly important.

Dental radiologists are people who are trained in the evaluation of x-rays which can have important diagnostic significance. Some may involved pathologies ranging from cancer to cysts. Their input is another important element in proper oral treatment.

Periodontists are specialists in gum problems. Many people have receding gum tissue due to poor hygiene, secondary responses to disease such as diabetes and hereditary factors such as periodontitosis. The latter is an hereditary condition where the bone tissue around the teeth recedes, this can result in loosening and loss of teeth. I do minor gum surgery and when I was in the Royal Canadian Dental Corps I was more involved; but, it is always a nice feeling to refer to our fine specialists in Ottawa. As well periodontists place implants for me. All in all a multidisciplined specialty who contribute to my patient’s dental health.

Prosthodontists are specialists who are trained in the provision of tooth replacement appliances such as complex dentures and complex crowns and bridges. They are a specialty who often provide appliances for patients who have problems such as cleft palates.

Public Health specialists are administrators who are dentists. They are often involved in the planning of programs which provide dental care for the overall general public., These often include people who are less advantages. In the Canadian Forces they planned what became a seminal program to ensure forces members were brought to and kept at operational fitness. This was a program that was studied by military Dental services world wide.

There are a lot of so called specialties that are prevalent on the net and in advertising. But they are not accredited by any official licensing body. I personally find their assertions a bit of a stretch. Most dentists are ‘family’ dentists in that we will treat all members of the family; but, to present this as a specialty is a tad tacky, at best. There are many so called “Cosmetic” dentists. This is definitely not a recognized or accredited specialty. Most dentists are trained to provide aesthetic results so to claim to be a specialist in such an area is also an ethical problem in my estimation. Many dentists, myself included, take advanced courses in the use of materials. There are many courses that emphasize the latest materials and techniques. A professor in McGill once told us, “Don’t be the first, nor the last to try something new.” A great piece of advice as I have seen many “latest” techniques vanish when they were proven to be less than reliable. So if you see, “We use only the latest techniques”, look askance. Go for the dentist who advertises, ” We use only proven technology”. There are many excellent study promotion organizations. Some offer fellowships on the attainment of specific courses attended;but, again they are not officially recognized accreditation.

If Medicine And Dental Medicine Are So Amazing, Why Have We So Much Illness? Are We Asleep?

Why do we spend so much and get so little?

Medicine in general accounts for massive spending in the “developed world”. We applaud how advanced medicine has become. We read articles about medical miracles and content ourselves that we are doing really well. Yet we are building and needing to build more and more and bigger and bigger hospitals. There are not enough beds in our hospitals to accommodate the number of sick people. Our waiting lists are an embarrassment. It seems not to occur to us that these are not the signs great advancement and wonderful progress in medicine. Increasing numbers of people and illness and a shortage of beds despite the bigger hospitals is a sign of the failure of medical science to bring us the health that it promises to bring.

When medical science can boast that the need for beds for sick people is diminishing and that new hospitals are no longer needed, they will then be reporting progress and medical miracles. People are waking up to this more and more and they are unhappy about the way things are. They see the need for change and want a new direction.

People need a new perspective on medicine. They need a new perspective on dental medicine, a new perspective on the mouth and dental disease. They have been trying so hard to get it right and the are tired and weary. They are weary of listening to scientists tell them what is wrong and how to fix it. They are weary of putting so much in but not getting so much out.

If we know so much, how did this happen?

One man that I saw recently had brushed his teeth so long and so hard that they were literally destroyed by his own efforts at saving them. The gums were 70% destroyed and the teeth were worn through past their centres and waving in the breeze. They were literally waving him good-bye. What had happened to this diligent man, who had never missed a six-monthly check-up and brushed his teeth at least four times a day?

He was on the brink of losing all his teeth as a direct result of his massive effort all his life to ensure that he would not lose his teeth. Emotionally he was distraught and who could blame him. He had done all he was told to do and more. He had never missed a day in his diligent efforts and now, there was nothing I could do for him to save his teeth. He did not know whether to shout in anger or cry in despair. I looked into his eyes and my heart went out to him.

I too felt like crying. The sense of utter disappointment, despair and frustration was so palpable. I did not know what to say to him. We sat in silence for what seemed like twenty minutes but was probably more like twenty seconds.

“I always did my very best…”, he broke the silence in the most dejected tones. I knew in my heart that this was the absolute truth. That was what made it all the more upsetting. I genuinely felt the beginning of tears. I had no words.

Hypnotized by scientific arrogance?

I wanted to apologise to him for the nonsense of the dental health advice he had listened to and followed to the letter and beyond. I was sure that had he not taken the dentist’s advice he might have saved his teeth. We had let him down so badly and now it was too late to modify or refine the advice or the instructions. He had looked up to and respected the wisdom and authority of dental medical science, followed it to the letter and now he was without hope of reprieve.

“We really should level with people and let them know that we are not the absolute authority that they think we are, or expect us to be” I thought to myself. “People have too much faith in us and too little in their own commonsense and wisdom.”

I knew that if were to tell this very intelligent man that all he had to do to maintain his car in good mechanical order was to wash it two to four times a day, with a professional cleaning every six months, he would never believe me. He would immediately intuit that while his car might be very clean using this practice, he could not count on the engine being maintained in this way and it would not protect him from his own driving or from the damage of a crash or other accidental damage. Yet he could believe it of his dental health without question. After all the dental experts said that it was so!

This is a perspective and a teaching that is so limited as to be of little value. In fact we have just seen that when people take it on as the ultimate recipe for dental health, it can cause the complete demise of the tissues by being brought the extreme. People need a new perspective. They need to understand much about the nature of their dis-ease and its origin. The person needs to come to a place where they can be a full partner with their dental (and medical and other) therapist/s. They need to know what we know but also what we don’t know and to be fully involved in decisions about treatment and management.

If this true story is not a call to awake, what is?

Fear of Dentist Dental Phobia -Odontophobia Treatment and Cure

Statistics show that for many people with dental phobia, the onset resulted fro a traumatic experience in childhood. That was what happened to me. I had an abscessed tooth and the dentist pulled it with no Novocain and never prescribed an antibiotic. After that even the thought of getting my teeth cleaned would make me physically ill. When our children were young I took them to a dentist who dealt exclusively with children. I couldn’t stay in the room with them. This kind man had me just sit in the chair and chat with him. When I was comfortable with that (a few weeks) he took x-rays, then we progressed to a cleaning. It took four months to get to that point and another two before I allowed him to fill two cavities.

This is not an atypical approach to dental phobias. Many therapists recommend this method. Some dentists don’t feel comfortable with this approach, and will refer you to someone who uses it routinely.

Those who developed dental phobias as a result of a horrific experience are referred to by some researchers as exogenous phobics, while those who develop it as a result of a sense of loss of control or from hearing of other people’s tales of terror are considered endogenous.

Some people have a form of the condition where they may fear only one dental procedure, such as the Novocain injection, the gas mask, or more commonly the noise of the drill.

Dental phobia can seriously affect a person’s life. In addition to poor dental health, an oral infection can become systemic and cause serious overall health issues. Also some sufferers begin to withdraw from friends and associates because they are embarrassed by the appearance of their teeth. They can become seriously depressed. Loss of self esteem, over not being able to overcome the fear, also can be a problem.

If you are a dental phobic you may be ashamed of being afraid of something that everyone else does routinely and probably think nobody else feels the way you do. Researchers estimate, that between 5 and 20% of people in western countries never see a dentist due to fear.

Don’t despair, you can get dental phobia and fear treatment and cure. You can call a dentist and explain the problem, she may be able to help you or refer you to someone who can.

Your medical doctor can refer you to a therapist. Before beginning with a therapist ask if they have experience with dental phobia. The local school of dental medicine should also be able to help you with a referral at the very least.

How does treatment proceed? Some therapists suggest what my kids’ dentist used more than 30 years ago. A gradual desensitization. Get comfortable sitting in the chair, having x-rays, cleaning and finally whatever treatment is needed.

Others start out with therapy sessions, aimed at getting to whatever may have triggered the phobia. This is the key to beginning the healing process. Then they may suggest the gradual desensitization process or the client may now feel ready to tackle a visit to the dentist.

In extreme cases it may be necessary for the phobic to be heavily sedated or even anesthetized for necessary dental treatment. However most of us can successfully experience a dental phobia and fear treatment and cure.

For more information on cure go to

The Dental Hygienist

Working as a dental hygienist requires you to have a certain degree of knowledge and skill relative to the field of dental medicine and its facets. The professional and learning requirements about this job opening are detailed in this job description. Tailor fitting your resume by identifying your foundation skills comparative to the job opening will increase your chances of successfully landing the position.

In this kind of job, your responsibility is to provide primary care, management and prophylaxis of dental conditions within but not limited to the gums and oral cavity extensions. He prepares and provides clinical information necessary for a dentist to make an effective diagnosis in identifying the right medical condition for a patient who may exhibit symptoms of an undiagnosed gum problem.

The dental hygienist is in charge of cleaning, conducting oral exams and checking for signs of deterioration and proliferation in the cavity of the mouth and its relational structure. Hygienists are also facilitators in educating patients about the value of health awareness for a healthy set of teeth and how to spot signs of gum disease and poor dental hygiene.

An expert understanding of the human anatomical structure specific to the orofacial neuromuscular, glandular and skeletal structure is a requirement to practice as a dental hygienist. Knowledge and necessary licensure to operate medical equipment related to the field is a must, such as radiologic technology, chemical agent management and instrumentation usage.

He is responsible for providing teeth grooming, by performing routine cleaning procedures such as stain removal, cleaning calcareous deposits in the teeth and curative procedures for gum disease and abscess formation. The Dental Hygienist will conduct a thorough physical examination of the teeth and its structures to determine the presence of any undocumented disease, deterioration and prepare the palliative and curative preparation and treatment upon recommendation of a licensed dental practitioner.

Dental Courses – What to Look For in a Dental Course

Dentistry as a field of medicine has always been in great demand. Surveys conducted across the country indicate that the ratio of dentists is gradually decreasing in comparison to other medical practitioners. With the advancement of different branches of dentistry including cosmetic treatments and advanced oral pathology, there is an overwhelming demand for reputed dentists and other dental jobs.

There is a wide assortment of dental courses to choose from with the choices broadening as a student passes onto advanced curriculums. Your opportunities depend on how early you start. Unlike other branches of medicine dentistry provides you with distinguished career options and choices having significant application in different sectors of today’s medical industry. There are dental courses for both graduates and undergraduates. However, an undergraduate dental course does not permit you to function as a licensed dental practitioner.

But it provides with a wide range of career choices like dental hygiene faculty, dental consultant or dental insurance agent. The program is a bachelor degree, BS in Dental Hygiene (Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene). The duration varies from 3 to 5 years depending on the university rules and internship and training programs. The job of a dental hygienist has applications in many fields including research and further specialization in different healthcare professions. This bachelor degree is a good choice if you wish to pursue clinical dental education or a doctorate in future.

In order to apply for DMD (Doctor of Medical Dentistry) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) one must hold a bachelor’s degree with competitive GPA scores. The admission is further based on a Dental Admission Test or a Dental Aptitude Test, commonly referred as DAT. The DAT scores in combination with the direct assessment of candidates through a personal interview determine the selection process. Thousands of students apply for this course in various universities across the country and every year the selection procedures are becoming more and more competitive. DMD is a full time degree that spans for a period of four years and the candidate is awarded with a tile of Doctor of Dental Medicine.

Another alternative for DMD or DDS is a degree of BDent or Bachelor of Dentistry. The course has been widespread in recent times and its curriculum is far similar to DMD. This is also a 4-year course that allows the candidate to take up general dental practice.

The basic doctorate courses can be furthered with suitable dental specialties like Orthodontistry, oral surgery, Endodontistry, Periodontistry, or Pedodontistry. Pedodontistry deals with dental care of children and the specialists in this field are highly in demand. Similar is the case with Orthodontists. With the increasing level of awareness and consciousness about dental cosmetics and advanced options available in this field, the scope of cosmetic dentistry has become invaluable.