You may have noticed the three letters after your dentist name, DDS or DMD, or your dentist may also referred you to a specialist. So what do all these different types of dentists do and how do you know which to visit for your specific needs?
DDS vs. DMD
Typically, when going to the dentist, you are seeing a general dentist. General dentists can either be a DDS or a DMD. A DDS dentist has earned their Doctor of Dental Surgery degree; one with a DMD has earned their Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. To earn DDS or DMD credentials a doctor must have to complete three or more years of undergraduate studies followed by four years of dental school.
What is the difference between DDS or DMD? The truth is, they are the same – the difference in title is due to the university they attended and how that university recognizes the profession. Both must complete the same course studies, a written exam, and a licensing exam to practice dentistry.
Both of DDS and DMD dentists are considered general dentists and are primary providers who treat overall dental care needs. This includes diagnosing and treating oral health issues such as gum disease, cavities, root canals, crowns, and bridges as well as preventative care.
Sometimes your dental needs may require your general dentist to refer you to a dental specialist. Dental specialists have completed an additional two to four years of training that focused on a specific area of dentistry. The additional training and experience to provides you with specialized treatment to help achieve optimal dental health. The most common types of dental specialists are:
- Pediatric Dentist or Pedodontist – Dentists who work exclusively with children.
- Orthodontist – A patient is referred to an orthodontist when a general dentist notices misalignment with the jaw and/or teeth of both children and adults. If there are extra teeth, missing teeth, or teeth are crowded, an orthodontist will treat the patient with solutions like braces, Invisalign and/or retainers. children can be referred to an orthodontist at an early age.
- Oral Surgeon – an oral surgeon specializes in the surgical treatment of disease, injuries and aesthetic or functional areas of the mouth. They remove wisdom teeth, handle dental implants and biopsy suspicious spots in the mouth. Oral Surgeons also have additional training in anesthesia to ensure the comfort of the patient when surgery is required.
- Endodontist – Specialists who have received training to help address tooth pain while saving the natural teeth by performing root canal treatment – a procedure that treats the infected tissues within a tooth. In fact, the word “endodontic” comes from the Greek word “endo” meaning “inside” and “odont” meaning tooth.
- Periodontist – a periodontist is a dental specialist that focuses on caring for your gums and the supporting tissues and structure around your teeth. In most cases, a referral to a periodontist is made to help patients treat advanced periodontal (gum) disease. They also are trained to place dental implants.
- Prosthodontist – this dental specialist focuses on helping patients restore and/or replace lost or damaged teeth. Their goal is to look at all of the elements related to helping a patient achieve a functional, natural looking smile. Some of the treatment they perform can include dental implants, bridges & dentures.
Your general dentist will always be your primary point of contact to help you with your dental care needs.
Do you need a new general dentist? Think you need a referral to a dental specialist? Find a Gentech Dentist near you and schedule your next dental appointment!