Types of Dentists and How They Can Help You

Types of Dentists: What Are the Different Types of Dental Specialists 

A vital part of adulthood is keeping a close eye on your health. When something goes wrong, we immediately know who to turn to. We know all the different medical specialists and are aware of where we need to go to get help. But what do we do for different types of dental treatment?

Maintaining proper oral health care is crucial for your health. And, sure, you’re aware that if you get a toothache or your teeth require some cleaning, you need to make a dental appointment with your South Loop dentist. But other than contacting your local dentist, do you know what type of a dentist you actually need?

General dentists can fix most of your run-of-the-mill issues, as they offer familiar dental services. They deal with cavities and perform root canals. But sometimes, you might need a specialist to treat your gum disease or provide specialised dental care. So, who do you turn to then?

Why Do We Need Different Types of Dentists?

All dentists go to the same dental schools to get their DDS or DMD degrees. However, some of them go through additional training and education in order to specialise. That training is also called a residency, and it includes several years of gruelling work and further education. 

For example, one dentist might choose to specialise in the dental care of children and youth. Although a general dentist can offer advice if your child gets a toothache, it’s best to take them to a pediatric dentist. 

So, that’s why there are different types of dental offices and specialists out there. But let’s see which ones are available to you.

How Many Different Dentist Specialists Are There?

There are seven main types of dentist specialists. Some of them we already mentioned, like the general and pediatric dentists. To know which specialist is the best dentist for you and your (potential) issues, you have to be aware of the services they offer. 

When we get a toothache on a rainy weekend night, we don’t really care which dentist we might need. All we know is that we need a Saturday dentist in Chicago, Il, that keeps evening office hours. 

But, if you’re prepared for potential issues in advance, you’ll know who to call no matter when your problems arise (yes, even on Saturdays!). 

So, the seven main types of dentists are:

  1. General dentists
  2. Pediatric dentists
  3. Orthodontists
  4. Prosthodontists
  5. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons
  6. Periodontists
  7. Endodontists

Aside from those, there are also oral pathology and oral radiology specialists.

General Dentists

General dentists are the ones that you probably refer to as family dentists. They take care of your basic oral needs and cover a wide variety of dental services:

  • Tooth decay treatments (such as cavity fillings)
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Tooth examination and cleaning 
  • Tooth extraction
  • Wisdom teeth removal
  • Cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry (to a degree)

Pediatric Dentists

As mentioned, pediatric dentists provide dental services for children and young adults. These services include both preventative therapies and dental treatments such as cavity fillings, extractions, and cleaning.


Everyone who wore braces during their formative years thinks they know what an orthodontist is. However, these dental specialists do more than correct the positioning of our teeth with regular or invisible braces. They also make and adjust:

  • Clear aligners
  • Palate expanders
  • Space maintainers
  • Retainers


Prosthodontists make prostheses for people who lost teeth. These prostheses can be removable or non-removable and include:

  • Crowns and bridges
  • Partial or full dentures
  • Dental implants
  • Jaw and teeth dentures

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

If you need your wisdom teeth extracted, you might go to a general dentist office. However, chances are, they’ll refer you to a surgeon specialising in treating the hard and soft tissue of the mouth region. Oral surgeons also perform surgeries that are needed due to:

  • deformities and other periodontal issues
  • tooth loss
  • accidental injury]disease
  • trauma to the mouth
  • dental caries


Sometimes we focus so much on teeth that we forget we also have our gums to worry about. Although periodontists work closely with other dentists, they mostly deal with the prevention and treatment of gum issues such as:

  • Pain and inflammation of the gum area
  • Cosmetic skin grafting in the gum area
  • Extensive pain
  • Various periodontal disease


The searing, almost unbearable pain that sometimes follows tooth decay is a sure sign that the nerves inside of the tooth have been damaged. Although general dentists sometimes deal with the treatment of nerves, extensive root canal work is usually done by endodontists. Endodontists not only have more knowledge (that helps them with extensive cases of nerve damage or inflammation), but also more experience.

Endodontists deal with the blood vessels, nerves, and tissues that are within the tooth. In other words, pulp and periradicular tissues of the tooth are their bread and butter. So, if you have an inflamed or damaged nerve and need a root canal, it’s best to find your local endodontist.

Knowing Which Type of Dentist You Need Can Save You Time and Money

When toothache starts pestering you, you probably won’t really have the time (nor the patience) to try diagnosing yourself to determine which one of these seven different types of dentists you need to call. But that’s alright. All you really have to do when an issue arises is call your local dentist. 

Your general, family dentist will examine you and give you the help that you so desperately need. Sometimes that help might come in the form of an extraction or tooth decay treatment. However, at other times, you’ll probably get a referral for a specialist. 

What’s more, scheduling regular dental appointments with your family dentist will probably help you stay on top of any potential issues that might land you in a specialist’s office. Remember, oral hygiene, health, and education (and that includes extensive knowledge on various types of dentists) are no joke!

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