When Should I See a Dental Specialist?

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Dental specialists, as their name suggests, specialize in certain areas of the dental field and provide targeted, personalized treatments for patients. Your general dentist will refer you to a specialist to treat a complex dental issue if they can’t diagnose or treat it themselves.

Types of Dental Specialists

There are a number of different types of dental specialists:

Pediatric Dentists

Pediatric dentists specialize in treating children and teens up to age 18. They receive an additional two years of education after finishing dental school, during which they learn the specifics involved with children’s dental care. Pediatric dentists are trained at working at a slower pace, using kid-friendly terms, and helping their young patients feel comfortable. You might see a pediatric dentist if you have a child under 18 years old.


Orthodontists are trained in treating bite and jaw misalignment. They are certified to provide orthodontic solutions like braces, aligner therapy, and other removable appliances to help patients improve how their teeth fit together. After dental school, they must also complete an additional two years of specialized education. You might see an orthodontist if you want to straighten your smile.


Periodontists specialize in taking care of your gums, particularly gum disease treatment. Periodontists also work with some patients who are considering dental implants to make sure they have a healthy jawbone and gums for the procedure. They receive an additional three years of periodontal education after dental school. You might see a periodontist if you have gum disease or are planning on getting dental implants.


Endodontists focus on treating the soft inner tissue of teeth known as the pulp. They must complete two to three years of advanced education. You might see an endodontist if you’re in need of root canal therapy.


Prosthodontists have received training and certifications for tooth restorations, such as crowns, bridges, and removable dentures (prosthetics). They focus on creating tooth restorations and replacements, and providing TMD/TMJ therapy. You might see a prosthodontist if you want to makeover your smile or need a full-mouth rehabilitation.

Oral Surgeons

Oral surgeons perform a variety of procedures from removing impacted teeth to reconstructive facial surgery. They work with both hard and soft tissues of the face, and they perform restorative and cosmetic procedures. Oral surgeons must complete four to six years of specialized education upon finishing dental school. You might see an oral surgeon if your dentist recommends surgery to fix your dental issue.

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