The Main Types of Dentists Explained: A Simple Guide

types of dentists

In the United States alone, $110 billion a year is spent on dentistry.

It’s a huge industry, and its importance can’t be overstated. Dental problems can be uncomfortable at best and excruciating at worst.

But when you need to see a dentist, who exactly do you go to?

Many people aren’t aware that are many different types of dentists with different specialties. It’s a good idea to be aware of each type so that you approach a true expert with your problem.

After all, you want to be well taken care of if you have a dental issue — as you would with any medical problem!

General Dentists

When you approach a dentist for a check-up or an initial look at a problem, the general dentist is probably the one you’ll see.

They can diagnose a problem and might be able to treat it if it’s fairly common or uncomplicated. They’re qualified to treat cavities, perform root canals, and do anything else considered routine.

Although they don’t operate under a specialty, they’re more than capable of giving you great results.

Pediatric Dentists

Pediatric dentists usually have knowledge of child psychology, since their specialty is working with children.

Working with children as a dentist can be difficult. Children have less of an ability to get dental-based anxiety under control than an adult. Good pediatric dentists will build a relationship with their young patients and ease their nerves.

They may also operate in a general capacity.

Oral Surgeons

Oral surgeons are called in when the problem requires a deeper operation to fix. They handle implants and the removal of wisdom teeth, as well as anything that can’t really be done in a routine appointment because of the complications.

Unlike many other dentistry fields, they are trained in anesthesia.


A prosthodontist specializes in helping patients with extremely damaged teeth.

This can include implants or dentures, but the ultimate goal is to return a natural smile to the patient’s mouth.

Procedures are often focused on the cosmetic side of things rather than the health implications.


Periodontists focus on gums rather than teeth. They’re trained to place dental implants, but mostly focus on advanced gum disease.

Gum disease is usually mild in patients but if left untreated, it can become very uncomfortable, which is where a periodontist will usually step in for treatment.


Although general dentists are trained to perform root canals, endodontists are the real experts — especially when the procedure is a bit more complicated due to the nature of the problem.

They’re trained in addressing tooth pain and performing root canals.

Make Sure You Have the Right Dentist for You and Be Aware of the Various Types of Dentists

It’s important to ensure you find a dentist who’s going to do a good job. You’ll start out with a general dentist, who will then refer you to one of these other types of dentists if necessary.

Hopefully, the general dentist can get the job done — but if not, you now know the functions of these dental professionals and pay a visit to them straight away.

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