Why Choose a Dental Specialist

Choosing a Dental Specialist or a Dentist Who Specializes

Today’s dental patients are able to choose from a variety of innovative procedures, from dental implants that may improve their smile and their ability to eat and speak, to adult braces made from clear, almost invisible materials. When choosing a dental professional to provide the service, however, many patients may not understand the difference between a dental specialist and dentists who say they “specialize” in a particular procedure. It is an important distinction that could affect the outcome of your dental procedure.

What is a Dental Specialist?

Dental specialists are dentists who, after completing dental school, further their education by completing a multiple year residency in a specific dental specialty area.
The American Dental Association’s Council on Dental Education and Licensure currently recognizes only nine dental specialties:

  • Dental Public Health
  • Endodontics
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontists

Dental specialists, as a result of their extensive training in their specialty area, have performed more procedures than dentists who “specialize” in a particular practice area. In addition, the specialist is better prepared to address unexpected problems or emergencies. They are trained to recognize such situations and effectively correct them.

What you need to know

Patients selecting a dental professional for a specialty-related procedure like wisdom teeth removal, dental implants, root canals or orthodontics should ask the following questions:

1. Are you a trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon, periodontist, orthodontist, etc? If not, what training have you had in performing this procedure?

2. How many procedures have you performed in the last six months?

3. What are the possible complications of this procedure?

4. If there are complications, how do you address them?

5. Will anesthesia be used for this procedure? If yes, who will administer the anesthetic? Who will monitor me during the procedure? What are your emergency capabilities and procedures?

6. What is your rate of success for this procedure?

Information above used with permission from the Texas Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons in Austin, TX.