Most of the time, the word “dentist” is the only one you need to know in reference to your oral health. Every once in a while, though, you need a specialist. Ever wonder what that terminology your dentist rattles off means? Here’s the lowdown.

Dr. Smith is a general dentist and his expertise covers a very wide variety of procedures.  But sometimes he will refer you to someone that specializes in certain procedures.

Dr. Smith does root canals, but sometimes he will refer you to an endodontist.  But that’s not all endondontists do – they also deal with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of other diseases and injuries to the pulp, which is the internal soft tissue of the tooth.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology:
This type of specialist helps to diagnose a wide variety of diseases in the head and neck through the use of  X-rays, computed tomographic investigations (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), and other imaging technologies. 

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon:
An oral surgeon diagnoses and operates on disease, injuries and defects in the mouth, jaw and face, generally through surgical extraction and reconstruction.

Oral Pathologist:
An oral pathologist deals with the identification and management of diseases that affect your mouth and face. These specialists rely on clinical, radiographic, microscopic and biochemical examinations for diagnosis.

If Dr. Smith thinks you need to see an orthodontist, it means you have some irregular dental development, missing teeth or other developmental abnormalities that are in need of correction. Chances are you’ll be fitted for braces, a frequently relied upon treatment designed to establish normal function and appearance of your teeth and jaws.

Pediatric Dentist:
A pediatric dentist specializes in providing comprehensive dental treatment to children, adolescents and young adults.

If Dr. Smith thinks you have a disease that could seriously damage your gums, bone or other tissues that support your teeth, he will refer you to a periodontist for diagnosis and treatment.

If you need to have a missing tooth or other oral structure replaced, your dentist will refer you to a prosthodontist.