What’s the Difference Between Dentists and Specialists (Part 1)
Earlier this week, my daughter was asked what her dad does for a living by her preschool teacher. Her answer: “My dad is a dentist and he fixes teeth.” Although she is not incorrect, she inspired me to write my next few blogs on the common confusion in regard to the different branches of dentistry, and those of us that work as dental professionals.
For this blog, I’m going to share with you a general overview of the field of dentistry and the players in it. There are many specialties, sub-specialties, dual-specialties, etc. in dentistry, but the main branches are as follows: general dentistry, prosthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, pedodontics, oral surgery, and orthodontics. The dental professionals in these fields are general dentists, prosthodontists, endodontists, periodontists, pedodontists (pediatric dentists), oral surgeons, and orthodontists respectively. All of us have completed additional schooling in an accredited dental program after graduation from undergraduate college, and have earned either our Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degrees. There is really no difference between the DDS and DMD, sincedentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education. It's up to the universities to determine what degree is awarded.
After completing dental school, a practitioner can choose to open practice as a general dentist (so technically, all dental professionals are dentists). If one so chooses, a dentist can obtain further training in dental residencies such as an Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) or General Practice Residency (GPR), or gain additional training in cosmetic and restorative dentistry. Otherwise, a dentist can enter a Dental Specialty Residency to focus on a specific branch of dentistry as a whole. To continue this discussion, in the next installment I’ll discuss the role of a general dentist in your dental healthcare.