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!
There are many different areas of specialization to explore beyond general dentistry. No matter what your specific fascinations, there’s a particular path of education that can be tailored to fit. The American Dental Association recognizes twelve unique specialties, each of which requires an advanced expertise:
Professionals in this field manage patients’ pain, anxiety, and overall health through dental diagnoses and procedures.
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.
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.
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
These dentists research and treat conditions, diseases, defects and injuries causing and/or contributing to functional and aesthetic problems in the mouth, teeth, jaws and face.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
These specialists interpret radiology scans to diagnose diseases or show the general condition of the mouth, teeth, jaws and face.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Dentists with this advanced degree have specific expertise in corrective surgery for problems with the tissues in the oral and maxillofacial regions.
Specialists in this area focus on oral healthcare for medically complex patients, along with diagnosing and managing medically related conditions affecting the mouth, teeth, jaws and face.
Orofacial pain specialists diagnose, manage and treat pain disorders affecting the jaw, mouth, face, head and neck.
Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
These specialists correct the improper placement of the teeth with braces and other therapies.
Dentists in this specialty work with infants and children to provide preventative and therapeutic dental services.
This specialty includes the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of problems with the tissue surrounding the teeth.
Prosthodontists provide solutions and comfort for people 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, then you might want to consider continuing your education with advanced degrees or getting the proper certifications to do what you love in the field of oral health.
Curious about becoming a dentist? Take a look at Roseman University’s College of Dental Medicine.