Beyond General Dentistry: A Close Look at Different Dental Specialties

  • September 21, 2023
  • 8 Min Read
different dental specialties

In the world of dentistry, where the pursuit of a healthy and radiant smile takes center stage, it's easy to overlook the intricate web of specialized dental disciplines that contribute to our oral well-being. While most of us are familiar with our friendly neighborhood dentist who takes care of our routine check-ups and cleanings, the world of dentistry extends far beyond general dental care.

In this blog, we will venture into the diverse world of dental specialties, shedding light on the expertise, procedures, and vital roles played by specialists who step ahead to ensure our oral health, comfort, and aesthetic aspirations. Join us as we delve deeper into dental specialists and discover how these experts enhance our lives one smile at a time.

Who are Dentists?

Dentists are healthcare professionals who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and preclusion of oral health issues. They play a crucial role in helping individuals maintain their oral hygiene and overall well-being. Dentists are highly trained and qualified to address a diverse range of dental and oral health concerns.

Here are some key aspects of who dentists are and what they do:

  • Education and Training: Dentists undergo extensive education and training to become qualified practitioners. They typically complete a bachelor's degree followed by four years of dental school, earning either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree.
  • Licensing and Certification: After completing dental school, dentists must obtain a state license to practice. This process involves passing written and practical exams to demonstrate their competence in dental procedures and patient care.
  • Treatment and Procedures: Dentists perform a wide range of procedures and treatments, including dental examinations, X-rays, teeth cleanings, cavity fillings, extractions, root canals, dental implants, cosmetic procedures (teeth whitening, veneers), and orthodontic treatments (braces, aligners).
  • Specialties: Dentists who choose to specialize in a specific area of expertise undergo additional education and training beyond dental school to focus on diagnosing and treating specific dental or oral health conditions. These specialists have in-depth knowledge and experience in their chosen area and provide specialized care to patients who require their expertise.

Looking At The Growing Dental Market In The US!

The United States is witnessing a significant transformation in the dental industry, with the dental market experiencing remarkable growth and evolution. This evolution is driven by a combination of factors, including advancements in dental technology, changing patient expectations, and an increasing awareness of the importance of oral health. One of the driving forces behind the growth of the dental market in the US is the rapid advancement of dental technology. Dentistry is no longer confined to traditional tools and methods; it has embraced cutting-edge technology to enhance patient care and treatment outcomes. As a matter of fact, the global dental equipment market, in terms of revenue, was estimated to be worth $6.5 billion in 2022 and is poised to reach $8.7 billion by 2027.

Here are some statistics and key data points that highlight the growth and trends in the dental market in the United States:

  • Market Size and Revenue: The dental chains market in the United States exhibited substantial growth, with a market valuation of USD 135.9 billion in the year 2021. Projections indicate that this growth trend is poised to continue, with an anticipated CAGR of 7.1% from 2022 to 2030.
    market size and revenue

    Source: GVR

    This impressive expansion is being driven by several key factors. Foremost among these is the increasing demand for a comprehensive range of dental services delivered by dental professionals. These services encompass not only the prevention but also the diagnosis and treatment of various dental issues. This surge in demand has led to the establishment and proliferation of well-structured dental chains across the country.
  • Dental Visits: Dental health is a priority for many Americans, and recent statistics shed light on their intentions and actions when it comes to visiting the dentist. In the ongoing year, An impressive 75% of American adults have expressed their intention to make a dental appointment within the next year. Conversely, 65% of adults aged 18 and over have already taken the initiative to prioritize their oral health by visiting a dentist in the past year. These statistics underscore a commendable commitment to dental well-being among a substantial portion of the population.
  • Increasing Dental Insurance Coverage: In the United States, maintaining good dental health is a priority for many adults. On average, an adult with sound overall dental health invests approximately $1,000 annually in dental care when they lack insurance coverage. This significant personal investment reflects the commitment to oral well-being. Fortunately, the landscape of dental care has seen positive changes, thanks to the increasing availability and affordability of dental insurance plans. These plans have played a pivotal role in shaping the dental market, enhancing access to dental care for a broader segment of the population. In recent years, approximately 60% of Americans have gained access to dental insurance coverage. This shift has been transformative, as it has not only made dental care more accessible but has also encouraged individuals to prioritize their oral health.
  • Dental Implants and Prosthodontics: In the United States, dental care expenditures are undergoing significant growth, with annual national spending reaching a substantial $130 billion. This upward trajectory is attributed to several key factors that collectively contribute to the expansion of the dental industry.
    First and foremost, the aging American population plays a pivotal role in driving this growth. As demographics shift and the population ages, the demand for dental care services has steadily increased. This includes a notable surge in the demand for dental implants and prosthodontic services, which offer durable solutions for tooth loss and oral health restoration. Another catalyst for growth in the dental sector is the relentless march of technological advancements. These innovations are transforming the field of dentistry, enhancing diagnostics, treatment procedures, and overall patient experience. Notably, dental implant procedures have witnessed consistent growth, with more than 5 million implants placed in the United States annually. Beyond national borders, the global dental implants market has also experienced substantial expansion. In 2022, the market size reached an impressive $4.15 billion, and projections suggest even more substantial growth. By 2030, the market is expected to swell to $6.95 billion, reflecting the worldwide significance of dental implants as a preferred solution for oral health restoration and enhancement.
  • Cosmetic Dentistry: The field of cosmetic dentistry has witnessed remarkable growth, driven by an increasing number of individuals seeking to enhance their dental aesthetics. Notably, the rise in disposable income in developing countries has played a crucial role in the expansion of cosmetic dentistry. As more people in these regions have access to greater financial resources, they are increasingly investing in dental treatments that enhance their smiles and overall appearance. The geriatric population, often more susceptible to age-related tooth ailments, has also contributed to the industry's growth. This demographic's desire to address dental concerns associated with aging has spurred the demand for cosmetic dentistry services.
    cosmetic dentistry

    Source: GVR

    Among the most sought-after procedures in cosmetic dentistry are treatments such as teeth whitening, alterations in dental appearance, and correction of malocclusion (misalignment of teeth). These procedures cater to the aesthetic desires and oral health needs of patients, reflecting the comprehensive approach of modern cosmetic dentistry. Globally, the cosmetic dentistry market has exhibited substantial size, reaching USD 29.6 billion in 2021. Projections indicate continued growth, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.0% from 2022 to 2030. This impressive growth trajectory underscores the enduring appeal and significance of cosmetic dentistry, as more individuals prioritize their dental aesthetics and overall well-being.

Exploring The Different Types Of Dental Specialties in the United States

In the United States, a robust dental workforce of approximately 200,000 licensed dentists stands ready to serve the diverse oral health needs of the population. Within this dynamic community, a rich tapestry of specialties flourishes, each contributing unique expertise to the field. These specialists encompass a wide range of dental disciplines, including orthodontics, periodontics, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, pediatric dentistry, and more. Their primary mission is to collaborate closely with patients, crafting individualized treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. This personalized approach extends to creating a welcoming and reassuring environment, particularly for those who may experience dental anxiety or have concerns about their oral care journey.

To ensure high standards of care and safeguard the public, these dental specialties are formally recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards (NCRDSCB). This recognition serves a vital purpose: to uphold the integrity of dental practice, foster the evolution of the art and science of dentistry, and elevate the overall quality of care delivered.

The 15 dental specialties recognized by NCRDSCB include:


Endodontics, a specialized branch of dentistry, carries the vital responsibility of diagnosing, treating, and preventing infections and injuries that affect the dental pulp, often referred to as the tooth's nerve. One of the well-known procedures in the domain of endodontics is the root canal, which is skillfully performed by an endodontist. This procedure involves the removal of infected or damaged dental pulp, followed by thorough cleaning and sealing of the tooth's interior. As per data provided by the American Association of Endodontists, the United States witnesses a remarkable volume of root canal procedures, with an astounding daily average of over 41,000. This astonishing frequency translates to an annual total exceeding 15 million root canal procedures carried out across the nation.

Endodontists are experts in preserving the health and function of teeth by addressing issues within the tooth's core, ensuring that patients can maintain their natural smiles and oral comfort.



Source: Zendent

Periodontics, encompasses a comprehensive spectrum of responsibilities. This specialty is dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting the soft tissues, commonly referred to as the gums, surrounding the teeth. Moreover, it extends its focus to the supporting structures, which include both the natural and artificial teeth and the underlying bone. According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are more than 5,663 periodontists currently practicing in the United States.


Prosthodontics is a specialized field within dentistry that revolves around the diagnosis, treatment, and restoration of oral function, particularly concerning cases involving missing or insufficient teeth and related oral and maxillofacial tissues. Prosthodontists employ biocompatible substitutes to address these issues comprehensively.

Distinguished by their expertise, prosthodontists possess the capability to repair natural teeth and undertake the replacement of missing teeth on a broader scale compared to general dentists. Their skill set includes the use of permanent solutions such as dentures and crowns (also known as caps) to replace teeth that have been lost or extracted, contributing significantly to the restoration and enhancement of oral function and aesthetics.


Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics encompass the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion, which refers to the misalignment or improper positioning of teeth resulting in "bad bites." Furthermore, it extends its purview to address neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities affecting the developing or fully developed orofacial structures.

Orthodontists play a crucial role in providing teeth straightening solutions. They achieve this by employing various methods, including the use of braces and other corrective appliances. These techniques facilitate the gradual movement of teeth through the bone structure, ultimately contributing to the alignment and harmonious positioning of the teeth and enhancing overall oral function and aesthetics.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a specialized field within dentistry that focuses on surgical interventions for a wide spectrum of conditions affecting the practical and visual facets of the hard and soft tissues in the oral and maxillofacial region. This specialty encompasses surgical procedures related to the face, mouth, and jaw, often addressing diseases, injuries, and defects. Furthermore, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are equipped to work with patients who have various concerns, including tumors, masses, and cysts occurring within the jaw structures. Their expertise extends to both restoring functionality and enhancing the appearance of these critical areas of the head and neck.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist

Oral and maxillofacial radiology, also known as dental and maxillofacial radiology, merges with the discipline of radiology to focus on the intricate interpretation of images and data generated by various forms of radiant energy. These radiographic techniques are employed for the purpose of diagnosing and managing diseases and conditions affecting the oral and maxillofacial region, encompassing the face, mouth, and jaws. The expertise of oral and maxillofacial radiologists is indispensable in providing valuable insights into the intricate structures and issues within this vital area of the human anatomy.

Oral Medicine

oral medicine

Source: mypenndentist

Oral Medicine, a distinguished specialty within dentistry, assumes a pivotal role in the oral healthcare of patients with complex medical conditions. Its scope extends to the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders, and conditions that have medical implications and impact the oral and maxillofacial region. An oral medicine specialist, also known as a stomatology doctor or dentist (stomatologist), undergoes additional specialized training and acquires extensive experience in addressing a diverse range of issues. These encompass the diagnosis and management of oral mucosal abnormalities, such as oral cancer, salivary gland disorders, temporomandibular disorders (pertaining to the temporomandibular joint), and facial pain arising from musculoskeletal or neurological conditions. This field occupies a unique intersection between medicine and dentistry, with oral medicine practitioners serving as vital "physicians of the mouth."

Oral Surgeon

Oral surgeons are widely recognized for their proficiency in performing wisdom tooth extractions. However, their scope of practice goes far beyond this routine procedure. These skilled professionals undertake a diverse array of specialized treatments and surgeries, addressing a wide range of oral and maxillofacial conditions.

oral surgeon

Source: dentalimage

Their expertise encompasses tooth extractions anywhere in the mouth, which may be necessary due to severe decay, trauma, or other dental issues to corrective jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery). In cases of accidents or facial trauma, oral and maxillofacial surgeons play a pivotal role in performing intricate surgeries to repair and reconstruct facial injuries. Moreover, they conduct biopsies to diagnose potential oral diseases, including oral cancer, when suspicious areas or lesions are identified.

These professionals are also skilled in bone grafting procedures, which are essential for augmenting bone volume in preparation for dental implants or for repairing bone defects resulting from trauma or disease. In essence, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are versatile and highly trained experts who contribute significantly to the treatment of diverse oral and facial conditions.

Oral and maxillofacial pathology

Oral and maxillofacial pathology is a specialized field that delves into the study of diseases affecting the intricate structures of the mouth, jaws, and related anatomical components. This encompasses a wide spectrum of conditions involving not only the mouth but also extending to vital structures like the salivary glands, temporomandibular joints, facial muscles, and the skin around the mouth.

The mouth is a complex organ with multifaceted functions, and it is susceptible to a diverse array of medical and dental disorders. Oral and maxillofacial pathologists play a pivotal role in comprehending, diagnosing, and managing these conditions, ensuring the overall health and well-being of patients by addressing issues that arise within this critical region of the body.

Orofacial Pain (OFP)

orofacial pain

Source: Revista De la

Orofacial Pain is dedicated to the comprehensive understanding, diagnosis, management, and treatment of pain disorders that affect various regions of the head and neck, including the jaw, mouth, face, and neck itself. This discipline plays a pivotal role in identifying and alleviating a wide range of painful conditions improving the quality of life for people experiencing discomfort and distress in these critical areas of the body.

Pediatric Dentist or Pedodontist

Pediatric dentistry, also known as pedodontics, represents a specialized field within dentistry that is uniquely tailored to the distinct needs of infants, children, and adolescents. This age-defined specialty offers a holistic approach, encompassing both primary and comprehensive oral healthcare, with a strong emphasis on prevention and therapy.

pediatric dentist

Pediatric dentists are highly trained to provide a wide range of oral health services, catering to the needs of children and teenagers, including those with special healthcare requirements. Their expertise extends to the early identification and management of various oral health concerns, such as dental decay, issues related to teeth eruption and positioning, as well as other conditions that may arise during this critical period of growth and development.

Dentist Anesthesiologists

dentist anesthesiologists

Dental anesthesiology represents a specialized intersection of dentistry and the field of anesthesiology, dedicated to the meticulous management of pain, anxiety, and the overall well-being of patients undergoing a spectrum of dental, oral, maxillofacial, and related surgical or diagnostic procedures. This specialized discipline extends its expertise across the entire perioperative period, ensuring that patients experience optimal comfort and safety throughout their dental care journey.

Dental Public Health (DPH)

Dental Public Health serves as a critical para-clinical specialty within the field of dentistry, primarily concerned with the preclusion of oral diseases and the advocacy of oral health within communities. This specialized discipline plays a pivotal role in preventing and managing dental diseases while actively promoting overall dental well-being through organized community initiatives.

Central to the mission of Dental Public Health is the coordination of efforts that encompass dental research, dental care delivery, and public health strategies. By working collaboratively within communities, professionals in this field are dedicated to improving oral health outcomes on a larger scale, thereby benefiting the overall health and well-being of individuals and populations.

Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist is a licensed healthcare professional trained to provide essential oral health care services to patients under the guidance of a licensed dentist. Their primary focus is on preventive oral care, patient education, and assisting with dental procedures. Their primary responsibilities include oral health assessments and examinations, teeth cleanings to prevent gum disease and decay, dental X-rays, educating patients on proper oral hygiene practices, administering treatments like fluoride applications and dental sealants, performing scaling and root planning for patients with gum disease, assists dentists during various dental procedures, maintains detailed patient records and treatment plans, and promotes oral health awareness and regular dental check-ups to patients and the community.


Dental hygienists are essential members of the dental care team, working alongside dentists to ensure that patients receive comprehensive oral health care and education to maintain healthy smiles.

Dental Assistant


Source: Coursera

A dental assistant plays a crucial role in ensuring the dentist's efficiency in delivering high-quality oral health care. Their responsibilities include providing patient care and support while the dentist conducts check-ups and procedures.

What Is The Need For Different Types Of Dentists?

Dentistry is a multifaceted field dedicated to preserving and improving oral health. While general dentists serve as primary care providers, various specialized dental professions exist to address specific dental conditions and patient needs. Whether it's preventing common dental issues, treating complex cases, or managing life-threatening conditions, specialized dentists play a crucial functionality in maintaining oral health and enhancing overall well-being. Their expertise and dedication ensure that patients receive tailored, effective care, ultimately contributing to a healthier and happier society. To break it down,

  • Meeting Unique Patient Needs: Statistics show that dental issues vary widely among individuals. For instance, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), about 91% of adults aged 20-64 have experienced dental caries (cavities) in their permanent teeth, while the American Association of Prosthodontists reports that nearly 85% of adults have at least one missing tooth, necessitating the expertise of prosthodontists for dental implants and restorations.
  • Specialized Expertise for Complex Cases: When it comes to complex dental cases, the need for specialized expertise becomes evident. While general dentists excel in routine oral care, certain situations demand a higher level of knowledge and skill that goes beyond their purview. For instance, endodontists are specialists trained to manage intricate root canal procedures. Prosthodontists step in when extensive dental restorations are necessary. Periodontists specialize in managing advanced gum diseases and preserving gum health, etc. In essence, entrusting specialized dentists with your unique cases, you can receive the tailored care and expertise necessary to navigate intricate oral health challenges.
  • For Better Patient Care: The need for various dental specialties primarily stems from a commitment to patient care. General dentists provide essential oral health services, but the diversity of oral health conditions requires a more specialized approach. Different specialties offer precision and expertise. This specialized knowledge is crucial for managing complex oral health issues.
    Moreover, these specialists develop customized treatment plans tailored to address specific conditions and challenges faced by individual patients. This approach ensures that patients receive the most suitable care. Ultimately, the specialized skills and knowledge possessed by these dental specialists result in more successful outcomes for patients. Whether it's a complex surgery, intricate restoration, or the management of a specific oral health condition, these specialists play a vital role in enhancing patient care and overall oral health.

So Are You Ready To Make An Appointment?

The world of dentistry is a multifaceted realm where a diverse range of dental specialists plays pivotal roles in ensuring comprehensive oral health care. We've explored various dental specialties, each with its unique focus and expertise, addressing a wide spectrum of oral health needs. As patients, recognizing the significance of these dental specialists empowers us to make informed choices about our oral health care journeys. Whether it's seeking orthodontic treatment for misaligned teeth, consulting with an oral surgeon for wisdom tooth extractions, or relying on a periodontist to manage gum disease, these specialists enrich our lives by preserving our smiles and promoting our overall health. Remember that the right dentist for one person may not be the same for another. It's important to find a dentist who aligns with your specific needs, preferences, and dental health goals. Regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining your oral health, so choose a dentist with whom you can establish a long-term relationship for ongoing care.