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Why is My Dentist Referring Me to a Specialist?

Dentistry has its own set of specialists just as medical does. You may have been referred to a specialty dentist and wondered why. Even though your dentist is trained in each specialty, it doesn’t mean he or she is your best option. Some cases can be very complicated and this is where the specialist shines. In this article, I will give a brief overview of the most common dental specialties.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Otherwise known as an oral surgeon, this specialty dentist deals with surgery involving the head and neck region. Orthognathic surgery (jaw surgery), wisdom teeth, dental implants, facial trauma and oral cancer surgery are just a few of the many procedures performed by an oral surgeon. Specialty training typically takes an additional four to six years to complete after four years of dental school.


I would venture to guess this is the one specialist that gives everyone the most anxiety. An endodontist specializes in doing root canals. Not all root canals are difficult but for the ones that are, an endodontist can be a blessing. Complex endodontic procedures may require the use of a high magnification microscope which most general dentists do not have. So, for the most difficult root canals, an endodontist is the person to see. Specialty training typically takes an additional two to three years after four years of dental school.


An orthodontist specializes in straightening teeth using braces or, in some cases, clear removable trays. As children grow, dental problems may become evident such as crowding, cross bites, missing teeth or abnormal jaw growth. Orthodontists can often correct these problems early before they become more difficult to treat later in life. In cases where jaw surgery is needed, an orthodontist will work with an oral surgeon and a dentist to ensure the teeth and jaws are properly aligned after surgery. Specialty training typically takes an additional two to three years after four years of dental school.


Periodontists specialize in the treatment and maintenance of the bone and gums around the teeth. Treatment of periodontal disease, gum recession and placing dental implants are a few of the most common procedures performed by a periodontist. Patients with serious periodontal problems will often alternate seeing a periodontist and their dentist until their condition is under control. Specialty training is typically an additional three years after four years of dental school.

If you get referred to a specialist, rest assured it is for a good reason. Your dentist should always be looking out for your best interest and often a dental specialist is the answer. If you have any questions or comments please contact us!

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