Whilst the word dentist itself comes from Latin and French words meaning tooth, the practice of a modern dentist is much more varied.
Today, although much of a dentist’s time may be spent ensuring the best health of their patients’ teeth, a dentist’s work also includes the care of all tissues and structure within the oral cavity as well as much of the larger craniofacial complex.
A dentist’s role is concerned with the prevention, correction, and/or treatment of conditions, infections, diseases that affect their patients. Dentistry itself has a long history with the first evidence of it appearing as a specialised branch of medicine occurs over 9000 year ago. Dentistry today is among one of medicine’s most commonly practiced specialties, and includes many different roles including assistants, hygienists, technicians, and therapist in addition to dentists themselves. Together they form an effective partnership to ensure their patients’ continuing oral health.
With oral diseases being some of the frequent conditions people will suffer from, regular dental treatment has been recognised as priority in health care for a long time. The prevalence of oral infections and other conditions has led the World Health Organisation has declare as oral health as a public health concern.
Healthy teeth and gums goes hand in hand with high socio-economic status, with those unable to access high-quality dental healthcare being disproportionately affected by preventable oral diseases. The importance of seeing a dentist for a check-up on a regular basis as well as the maintenance of a good standard of oral hygiene in your daily life is not something to be underestimated. Nevertheless, many of us will have to undergo curative treatments at some point during our lifetime, but with an acute awareness as to the condition of our teeth we can prevent the development of more serious medical concerns.
Dentists are skilled professionals who can carry out a number of delicate and difficult procedures in order to ensure the health of their patients’ teeth and gums. This includes the fitting of fillings, crowns, dental implants, and dentures, as well as the performance of root canals or tooth extraction. Some dentists will choose to widen their skill set even further by undergoing further study to perform maxillofacial surgery.
A dentist will always advise that a preventative measure will always be preferable to corrective treatment. And patients should contact their dentist at the first sign that something is becoming a problem. Although rare, the development of an oral condition can be symptomatic of deeper problem. To ensure the ongoing health of your teeth and gums, dentists recommend that you see your dentist regularly (roughly every six months) to ensure that any ongoing issues are not going undiagnosed and treated.
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Whilst accreditation of dental specialties differs depending on the governing body under whose jurisdiction a practicing dentist works, there breadth nevertheless represents how varied a dentist’s work truly is.
A veterinary dentist is concerned with the dental treatment of animals. Veterinary dentistry is a branch of veterinary medicine.
Dentistry involving the specialist care of patients with a range of disabilities.
Sometimes referred to as prosthodontics, prosthetic dentistry is an area of dentistry that focuses on the development and fitting of dental prosthetics.
Referring to the study of the structures that support teeth, periodontology is concerned with supporting structures, such as gums, and the conditions that affect them.
Paediatric dentistry is a specialism pursued by those with a particular interest in the specialised dentistry required by children.
Also known as orthodontics, this specialty is primarly focused on the diagnosis and correction of the teeth through straightening. The specialty also extends to corrections made to the midface and mandibular growth.
On the boundary with the broader study of medicine, oral medicine refers to specialised medical diagnosis and treatment of the oral cavity.
Oral implantology is concerned with the replacement of teeth with dental implants. This may be done because the original tooth was diseased or damaged.
Refers to the practice of research with reference to craniofacial biology.
Also referred to as oral surgery, this specialty is concerned with all practices including the tooth extraction, placement of implants, and surgery of the jaw.
Radiology in the context of dentistry is concerned with the performance and interpretation of diagnostic images.
This specialty refers to the study and diagnosis of diseases that affect the teeth, gums, and other structures contained within the oral cavity.
Specialising in the care of age-related dental conditions, geriatric dentistry is the specialised dental care of older patients who are more susceptible to aural conditions.
Sometimes referred to as a forensic dentist, specialist in this branch of dentistry are often tasked with verification of identity from dental records to be used as evidence in cases of criminal and civil law.
Referring to the study of dental pulp, Endodontics as a branch on conservative dentistry is concerned with restoration of tooth function and form after having been damaged.
Referring to the study of oral health and hygiene in the context of epidemiology, dental public health as specialty includes the study of health policy.