Today, dentistry has become a much larger field of medicine than it was fifty years ago. Dentists can prevent and correct many issues of the mouth, jaw, neck, and face in addition to caring for the teeth and gums. Dentistry today is usually broken down into several specific practices or specialties, though few of these specialties require additional or specific training apart from general dentistry. General Dentistry is the term usually used for the protective and corrective care of the teeth and gums. This typically includes regular tooth cleanings, x-rays, examinations, fillings, and extractions.
Restorative dentistry is a special branch of dentistry that requires knowledge of several different branches of dentistry. This branch focuses on management and treatment of gum and tooth decay and disease. It encompasses many of the other areas and combines several areas of treatment in order to most effectively deal with the decay and disease. This part of dentistry also deals with the diagnosis and treatment of certain mouth and jaw disorders.
Cosmetic dentistry is becoming more and more popular. This term generally refers to the type of dentistry that will improve the appearance of the teeth, gums, and mouth. Usually, by improving their appearance, their health and function will also be restored. Cosmetic dentistry does not require much continuing or specialized education beyond the dentistry degree and certification and is not recognized as a separate branch of specialty dentistry. Therefore, any general dentist will be able to perform any procedures deemed cosmetic.
Typically cosmetic procedures are done in an outpatient setting and are generally done using local anesthetic. Tooth whitening is the most popular cosmetic procedure and can be done either in the dentist’s office or in a combination of clinic and home treatments over several weeks.
Tooth enamel shaping and tooth contouring are also very common procedures and require little to no down-time after the procedure for the patient. This procedure can help to correct minor imperfections or chips in the teeth, or can help reshape or resize a tooth. Tooth bonding, dental bridges, and veneers are also very typical types of cosmetic procedures.
Orthodontics refers to the practice of of treating bite problems. This branch of dentistry is very specialized and does require an additional and different training regimen. These bite problems can be caused by irregular tooth structure, orientation, or location, jaw issues, or both. Sometimes this branch of dentistry also deals with the development and growth of the facial and jaw bones.
Orthodontics can be cosmetic in nature, but many orthodontic procedures also focus on proper jaw alignment and function and require extensive treatment and sometimes surgery. When choosing a medical professional, make sure that you choose a dentist that is certified and comes highly recommended. You want to find a dentist who is known for good honest work and who has extensive training and experience in the field.