Dental Specialties

New technologies and ways of managing dental problems develop each year. Dentistry began meeting the demands of this knowledge decades ago by creating particular areas of dental expertise called specialties. The American Dental Association currently recognizes nine dental specialties: Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics, and Prosthodontics.

What’s the difference between a general dentist and a specialist?

Both general and specialty dentists receive a doctorate degree in dentistry-either a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) depending on the school from which they graduate.

Some dentists may choose to broaden their dental education by pursuing an advanced General Practice Residency program. While not a dental specialty, a General Practice Residency does provide more extensive dental training in areas such as:

  • Dental implants
  • Sedation dentistry
  • Hospital dentistry
  • Complex reconstruction
  • Esthetic dentistry

Drs. Ferrara, Mioduski, and Olson have all completed advanced General Practice Residency Programs.

What are the recognized dental specialties?

The American Dental Association formally recognizes nine dental specialties. They include:

Dental Public Health — the science and art of preventing and controlling dental diseases and promoting dental health through organized community efforts. Public health dentists are concerned with the dental health education of the public, with applied dental research, and with the administration of group dental care programs as well as the prevention and control of dental diseases on a community basis.

Endodontics is the branch of dentistry which is concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues. Its study and practice encompass the basic and clinical sciences including biology of the normal pulp, the etiology, diagnosis, prevention and treatment (i.e. root canals and apico surgeries)of diseases and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions. These dental specialists are called endodontists

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of pathology that deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. It is a science that investigates the causes, processes, and effects of these diseases. The practice of oral pathology includes research and diagnosis of diseases using clinical, radiographic, microscopic, biochemical, or other examinations. These dental specialists are called oral and maxillofacial pathologists.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of radiology concerned with the production and interpretation of images and data produced by all modalities of radiant energy that are used for the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region. These dental specialists are called oral and maxillofacial radiologists.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is the specialty of dentistry which includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. These dental specialists are called oral and maxillofacial surgeons.

Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is the dental specialty that includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion, as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures. These dental specialists are called orthodontists.

Pediatric Dentistry is an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs. These dental specialists are called pediatric dentists or pedodontists.

Periodontics is that specialty of dentistry which encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues. These dental specialists are called periodontists.

Prosthodontics is the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes. These dental specialists are called prosthodontists.