Endo, ortho, perio — oh my!
Dental professionals decoded
Not all dentists are created equal. From periodontists to orthodontists, you can find a range of specialized dentist fields within the profession, whether it’s gum treatment, braces or a dental implant you need. But how can you tell one “-odontist” from another? We’ve got you covered. Here’s an overview of some of the most common dental specializations.
- Endodontists specialize in the soft inner tissue of the teeth, called the pulp. Infection of this area can cause tooth sensitivity and intense pain. Experts in root canal treatment, endodontists may also handle traumatic dental injuries, such as knocked-out teeth. Compared to general dentists, who only perform about two root canals a week, the average endodontist carries out an impressive 25 root canals, according to the American Association of Endodontists.
- Orthodontists work to realign teeth and jaws using braces, retainers, spacers, headgear and more. Crooked teeth are harder to keep clean and are more likely to be lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. Misalignment can also lead to speech problems, jaw pain, gum problems and difficulty biting or chewing. Orthodontic treatment can improve the health, appearance and lifespan of your teeth.
- Periodontists focus on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation, known as gingivitis, to major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. You might want to make an appointment with a periodontist if you need scaling and root planing, gum grafts or dental implants.
- Prosthodontists are experts in the restoration and replacement of teeth. Using crowns, bridges, full or partial dentures and dental implants, these dentists can help restore the appearance and function of your teeth after dental loss or damage.
Although general dentists offer a broad range of services, your dentist may refer you to one of these specialists if you need treatment beyond what he or she can provide.
Last updated: June 2017
The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.