Specializations for Those Interested in Dentistry

Perhaps you were the kid that wanted to see the rat skull in your friend’s backyard because you wanted to look at its teeth. Maybe you are the type of person now that analyzes dental problems when someone you meet first smiles. Some people are just meant to be dentists, but there are many different areas of specialization you can explore beyond general dentistry. You can go down a particular path of education to tailor your specific fascinations to your future profession. There are nine certifiable specialties recognized by the American Dental Association that you can choose from.

  1. Dental Public Health – Dentists in this field work to prevent dental diseases within a community and control any diseases that arise, as well as promote public awareness of the need for oral health care.
  2. Endodontics – This specialty focuses on the condition of the human dental pulp (the inside part of the tooth) and tissues. Dentists study the biology of the pulp and how to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases there.
  3. Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology These dentists research and treat conditions, diseases, defects and injuries causing and/or contributing to functional and esthetic problems in the mouth, teeth, jaws and face.
  4. Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology These specialists interpret radiology scans to diagnose diseases or show the general condition of the mouth, teeth, jaws, and face.
  5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery An advanced degree that teaches dentists how to perform corrective surgery for problems with the tissues in the oral and maxillofacial regions.
  6. Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics These specialists correct the improper placement of the teeth with braces and other therapies.
  7. Pediatric Dentistry – Dentists in this specialty work with infants and children to provide preventative and therapeutic dental services.
  8. Periodontics – This specialty includes the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of problems with the tissue surrounding the teeth.
  9. Prosthodontics – Prosthodontists provide solutions and comfort for those suffering from deficient or missing teeth.

The first step for any of these dental specialties is to get a degree in general dentistry, or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. If any of these specialized fields seem particularly interesting to you, then you might want to consider an education that goes above and beyond by continuing your education with advanced degrees or getting the proper certifications to do what you love in the field of oral health.

Good Oral Hygiene Starts Here

More than half of adult Americans claim they brush their teeth twice a day. While this is good news for the oral health of the population, the statistics do not show how many of these people are brushing properly.

The Right Toothbrush

Choosing the correct toothbrush is the first step toward good oral hygiene. The brush needs to fit comfortably in your mouth while the handle fits comfortably in your hand. Discomfort while brushing may indicate a poor fit. Whether the toothbrush is manual or electric is a matter of preference, but bristle softness is not. The American Dental Association recommends soft bristles so the brush can remove plaque gently without scraping the tender tissue of the gums or scratching the tooth enamel.

Brushing Technique

How a person brushes may be the most important factor in preventing oral issues such as plaque buildup and gum disease. Place the bristles against the upper part of the teeth at a 45-degree angle and brush in short, circular or vertical strokes for two to three minutes twice a day. Brushing more than three times per day may cause damage to enamel, while brushing only once a day could lead to the buildup of bacteria in the mouth.

It is important to brush the outer, inner, and chewing surface of each tooth, and some dentists recommend starting in a different place every time because by the end of the routine, some people may be less thorough than they are at the beginning of the routine. After brushing your teeth, don’t forget to brush your tongue as well to remove bacteria.

Toothbrush Maintenance

When the toothbrush removes the bacteria from the teeth and tongue, it remains on the toothbrush unless the brush is rinsed thoroughly under running water. After rinsing, it is just as important to shake out excess moisture and allow the toothbrush to air dry. If a cap is used, it should allow air in, since a moist toothbrush may breed even more bacteria. When bristles lose their flexibility and begin breaking apart, or if you have been using the same toothbrush for more than three months, it is time for a new brush.

Following these guidelines is the beginning of a good oral hygiene routine that protects teeth and gums from bacteria, cavities, and gum disease.

Root Canal Awareness Week

What Do You Know About Root Canals?

The American Association of Endodontists celebrated Root Canal Awareness Week on March 30 – April 5, 2014. Currently in its eight year, this week is a time for people to learn the facts about this valuable treatment and how it can help them. Endodontists and other dental professionals are setting aside time during RCAW to focus on patient education and empowerment through the sharing of reliable information.

Why is Root Canal Awareness Important?

Though many people have heard of root canals, not everyone actually understands what this procedure is, what condition it is meant to treat, or how it could benefit them as a dental patient. For instance, did you know that:

• Modern root canal treatments are virtually painless?
• Root canal treatments can preserve a natural tooth?
• Endodontists specialize in performing root canals?
• Endodontists perform an average of 25 root canal procedures each week?
• Root canal treatments can relieve the pain of infection deep inside a tooth?

Even though dental students are likely to recognize the value of root canal procedures, it is important to share this information with others who may not be aware of how these procedures could benefit them. When a patient’s natural tooth is preserved through a root canal procedure, they retain their natural sensation and bite and can enjoy more effective chewing. Treating a tooth infection could prevent discoloration and disease from spreading to adjacent teeth; this allows patients to retain their natural smile.

How You Can Get Involved

Dentists and dental students can get involved in Root Canal Awareness Week every year, but you don’t have to be a dental professional to be part of it. As a patient you can ask your dentist for more information about the procedure, even if you don’t need to have it done right now. Confronting misinformation with facts helps relieve patient anxiety and makes people less reluctant to seek this and other types of dental treatment. You can educate yourself about this procedure and other forms of endodontic treatment by visiting the website of the American Association of Endodontists.