A dentist must complete a bachelor’s degree plus a further three to four years of medical school before qualifying. They also serve a residency before being able to practice. Therefore, you are in well-qualified hands when you sit in a dentist’s chair.
A periodontist and orthodontist are further branches of the dental healthcare profession. These dentists have undertaken additional years of training to enable them to specialize in their particular field of dentistry.
Most people will visit their dentist every six months for a routine check-up. Your dentist will assess your teeth and gums, checking for signs of oral health issues, as well as cleaning plaque and tartar from the teeth.
The main focus of your dentist is preventive dentistry and dental hygiene. They will perform certain restorative procedures such as fillings and crowns, as well as cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening. They will also perform regular oral cancer screenings.
If you have a more complex dental health issue, such as advanced gum disease, they can refer you to the appropriate specialist.
Periodontist: The Gum Specialist
If you have gum disease, you may need to visit a periodontist. These dentists specialize in the gums, and have undertaken an additional two to three years of training on top of their dentist training in order to practice in this area of dentistry.
You might be referred to a periodontist if you have severe gum disease or any complex and unique gum health issues. A periodontist can perform root planing and gum scaling to treat gum disease, and they can also carry out gum surgery, including gum grafts and laser surgery.
Orthodontist: Teeth Alignment
An orthodontist must also undergo additional years of training to specialise in their field. An orthodontist addresses teeth or jaw alignment issues requiring corrective treatment.
You do not need a referral from a dentist to book an appointment with an orthodontist, although your dentist can often be the first person to recommend seeing this specialist. Children can also visit an orthodontist, and it is recommended their teeth are evaluated for alignment issues by the age of seven.
Talk To Your Dentist
Generally, your dentist will be the first port of call for any dental issues. They will likely be the first to spot potential problems as part of a routine check-up. From there they may refer you to another qualified professional who specializes in a particular field of dentistry.
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