What Do Dentists Do?

The American Dental Association has adopted nine dental specialties. Dentist Honolulu Hawaii These nine specialties make up the different types of dentists which are involved in the care of the teeth, gums, mouth, and other parts of the oral cavity.

Before we go through the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association, let us discuss the role of the general dentist first. A general dentist is considered a “primary care dental provider.” He takes charge of the diagnosis, treatment, and management of the overall oral health. A Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree and a license to practice are required to be a practicing general dentist.

Meanwhile, dentists undergo additional post-graduate training to be considered as a dental specialist. Here are brief descriptions of each dental specialty and their roles in our oral health.


Adopted by the American Dental Association in December 1983, Endodontics is the second dental specialty recognized by the association following Dental Public Health.

Obtained from the Greek words “endo,” meaning inside, and “odont,” meaning teeth, this dental specialty is concerned with the dental pulp and its surrounding tissues. Called endodontists, dentists who specialize in Endodontics, provide diagnosis and treatment of the soft pulp tissue inside the tooth which comprises of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues.

Root canal therapy, which is employed to repair and restore a decayed or infected tooth, is the most common endodontic procedure.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

General dentists often refer patients to an oral surgeon when the surgery involves has become riskier, and expertise of an oral surgeon is needed for the success of the procedure and the safety of the patient. A common condition that will require an oral surgeon is an impacted wisdom tooth.

The American Dental Association adopted oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in October 1990. This dental specialty is involved in the diagnosis and treatment, typically through a surgery, of diseases, abnormalities, and injuries of the oral and maxillofacial region including its functional and aesthetic features.

Pediatric Dentistry

A pediatric dentist provides dental care for children starting from their first dental visit, which is recommended as early as six-month-old, until their adolescent years of around 16 to 18 years old. As a pediatric dentist, the goal is to provide specific dental treatments particularly in preventive and to advocate the significance of oral health through patient education. The American Dental Association first adopted this dental specialty in 1995.


Prosthodontics comes into the picture when a need to restore the full smile of a person with missing tooth or teeth arises. Adopted by the American Dental Association in 2003, this dental specialty focuses on the rehabilitation of the teeth and the maintenance of their function through the use of dental implants, bridges, dentures, or other biocompatible substitutes.

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology

Often working side-by-side with an oral surgeon, an oral and maxillofacial pathologist works on the identification, management, and treatment of pathologies — the causes and effects of diseases — of the oral and maxillofacial region. It was adopted as a dental specialty by the American Dental Association in May 1991.

Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics

Aside from its aesthetic consequences, a crooked set of teeth is also unhealthy for the teeth as it amplifies the risk of developing dental caries, gum disease, and more. To address crooked teeth and improper bites, a patient must undergo an orthodontic treatment like braces.

Orthodontics is a dental specialty which focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, interceptions, and correction of malocclusions or misaligned teeth. Moreover, an orthodontist is also involved in the remedy of the neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the orofacial structures.

This dental specialty was adopted by the American Dental Association in April 2003, making it the newest addition, together with prosthodontics, to the list of dental specialties.


As much as the teeth are important, their surrounding structures like the gums are also necessary. Periodontics is the dental specialty in charge of preventing, diagnosing, treating diseases of the gums and the tissues and structures supporting and surrounding the teeth, and maintaining the health, function, and appearance of these tissues. The American Dental Association appropriated it in December 1992.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology

When it comes to interpreting the resulting images of your X-ray procedure, an oral and maxillofacial radiologist is the dentist to look for. An oral and maxillofacial radiologist is a recognized expert in the production and interpretation of images and data which are used in the diagnosis and management of oral-related disorders. The oral and maxillofacial radiology was identified as a dental specialty by the American Dental Association in April 2001.

Dental Public Health

Dental Public Health is the first dental specialty adopted by the American Dental Association in May 1976. Unlike other dentists, a public health dentist does not perform his duty as a dentist in a dental office. Instead, a public health dentist uses his dental knowledge in helping the community prevent and control dental diseases. He also promotes the importance of oral care through research and dental health education.

It is imperative that the different dental specialties be known and understood to know better how we could best address our dental problems.

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