Think about how many different types of doctor there are. You’ve got your general practitioners, pediatricians, podiatrists, neurologists, and so on. Each different type of doctor focusing on a different aspect of the body. In a similar fashion, there are many different types of dentist! And the different dentists specialize in different things. For example:
This is the person you should be seeing at least once a year. Your general dentist takes x-rays, cleans your teeth, fills cavities, and performs all of the preventative services to keep your mouth healthy. Your general dentist is like your general practitioner for your mouth. They see you regularly and have a baseline established for what your healthy mouth looks like. That way, if something is wrong, they can either correct the issue, or refer you to someone that can.
The endodontist is primarily concerned with the pulp and nerves of your teeth. They are “concerned with the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases or injuries” to those parts of the tooth. They handle root canals and other root procedures that involve surgery.
These health care providers concern themselves with diseases that affect any oral structures, and in some cases, parts of the face and neck. These are the folks that will examine and diagnose a biopsy or other tissue sample that was sent by another oral health care professional.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon:
Did you have your wisdom teeth removed? Most likely, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon handled the procedure. They take care of many different surgical procedures in the mouth, face, and jaw. In addition to things like wisdom teeth removal and dental implant surgery, they also perform reconstructive surgery on people that have had facial injuries. They can also remove cysts and tumors from the jaw. They do a lot of different procedures.
This dental doctor specializes in bite correction. Whether the cause is hereditary, from missing (or extra) teeth, or jaws that are out of alignment, the orthodontist will straighten your bite. They use wires, bands, braces, retainers, and other tools to force teeth to move back through the bone to the correct position.
This is the person who you’ll take your children to. Pediatric dentists specialize in children’s teeth, from age one, up through young adulthood.
A periodontist specializes in soft tissue and supporting structures. So your gums and the bones of your mouth. They treat gingivitis, periodontitis, and can also perform simple and deep pocket cleanings, root planing, crown lengthenings, soft tissue/bone grafts, and a few other procedures.
The prosthodontist handles the repair of teeth and the replacement of missing teeth. They use artificial teeth, crowns (gold or ceramic), or implants. They also work with patients that have deformities by replacing missing parts of the face and jaw.