How does a dental specialist differ from a general (family) dentist?
A dental specialist is a general dentist who has undertaken further study to dedicate their lives to a specific area. The first step towards becoming a dental specialists involves becoming a general dentist. This usually involves 4 years of undergraduate study before 4 years of dental school. At this point some choose to practice general dentistry for their career, focusing on a general spectrum of dental procedures, including regular checkups, fillings, and cleanings. For specialists, the next step in the process is the specialist residency which requires an additional 3-6 years of post-graduate study, depending on the specialty. Specialists have dedicated their careers to a narrower scope of dentistry allowing for more detailed study and more focused practice.
In Canada there are 10 recognized dental specialties. Below is a list a very brief description of a few of these specialties:
Orthodontist: Specialist who deals with preventing and correcting malocclusions (misalignment of how the teeth come together). Their core focus is on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. This is accomplished by using orthodontic appliances like braces or Invisalign aligners. Dr. Sherwin Habibi is an Orthodontist. (Read More)
Prosthodontist: Specialist primarily focused on the reconstruction and replacement of broken down and missing teeth. This is accomplished with the use of dental implants, crowns, bridges, and dentures. Dr. Sam Hickman is a Prosthodontist.
Oral Surgeon: Specialist focused on the surgical procedures of face, mouth, and jaw areas.
Periodontist: Specialist focused on diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of periodontal and peri-implant diseases.