Your teeth are an important part of you. Not only are they vital to your everyday functioning, allowing you to chew, talk, bite your nails, etc., but they also help you to brighten the lives of those around you by allowing you to flash a dazzling smile! Your teeth do so much for you, and you owe them the absolute best treatment possible, which means that choosing the right dental specialist for your complex treatments is vitally important. If you’re in need of dental implants, bone grafting or treatment for any periodontal-related issue, you can never go wrong with San Antonio Periodontics and Implants, where we are committed to providing you with the absolute best service catered to your individual dental needs.
The Difference Between a General Dentist and a Specialist
I’m sure you’ve been to a general dentist for a teeth cleaning, or maybe to get those pesky cavities filled. While a general dentist is great for those kinds of procedures, there are some things that are outside their realm of expertise. When you need treatment outside of a general dentist’s skill set, they will most likely refer you to a specialist. After completing dental school, dental specialists participate in a multiple-year residency, studying in a specific area of dental specialty. Because of this, dental specialists perform more procedures in their respective fields than any general dentist who specializes in an area of dentistry.
While we’re on the subject, there’s a big difference between a general dentist who says they specialize in a field and an actual dental specialist. You should be wary of general dentists who brand themselves as able to handle dental issues outside of their realm of expertise. These dentists will usually give convenience as a reason for offering to do advanced operations themselves. An example of this is a young patient who spent four years and whose parents spent way more money than they should have with braces. If they’d just gone to a qualified orthodontist from the start they would have saved time, money and emotional and physical pain for their child. Agreeing to let a general dentist do dental work that is outside of their realm of expertise could jeopardize the quality of your dental care and end up costing you more money in the long run. Is temporary convenience really worth it?
Types of Specialists
So, what exactly does a dental specialist do? The answer to this question depends on the type of specialist that you’re referring to. Here’s a list of the nine different types of dental specialists:
• Dental Public Health
These specialists are concerned with the prevention and control of dental diseases. It’s safe to say you won’t be referred to these specialists because they don’t work with individual patients, but instead oversee the dental health needs of local, state, and national groups. People who specialize in this field tend to be social-justice oriented and aim to improve and monitor the existing dental health system. These specialists perform oral health assessments and assurance, develop and implement oral health policy, seek to eliminate disparities, provide social justice in dental care access, and research innovative solutions to dental health problems.
I bet you didn’t even know that there is a soft inner tissue hiding within your teeth. Well, there is, and it is commonly referred to as the pulp. This just goes to show that everyone has a soft, mushy center hidden beneath their hard exterior, even your teeth! Endodontic specialists are concerned with endodontic therapy, which includes procedures involving this tissue within your teeth. You might be referred to an endodontic specialist if you need an apicoectomy, a root canal, to have a tooth divided in half, root repair, root removal or intentional replantation.
• Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology (OMP)
Specialists in OMP are experts on diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions and they are responsible for diagnosing and managing these diseases. In this case, Maxillofacial means the regions around the jaws and face, while oral references your mouth. This is a research specialty that studies the causes, processes and effects of these diseases so that doctors and dental hygienists can know how to treat them when necessary. Oral and maxillofacial pathologists research and diagnose the aforementioned diseases using microscopic, biochemical and clinical examination to name a few.
• Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (OMR)
These specialists use radiant energy to produce images and data, which are used in the diagnosis and management of disorders in the oral and maxillofacial region. Your general dentist might refer you to an OMR specialist if you need surgical planning for your impacted and wisdom teeth, if you are having a tooth removal or if you are having another type of oral surgery that will require you to be sedated or on general anesthesia. OMR specialists perform a number of other functions, including, but not limited to, examining tumors, cysts and planning orthopedic treatment.
• Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
These surgeons work alongside OMR and OMP specialists on issues with oral and maxillofacial diseases and injuries, diagnosing, performing surgeries and treating these issues. You might be referred to an oral maxillofacial surgeon if you need orthognathic surgery, craniofacial surgery or dental alveolar surgery, to name a few.
• Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
I think most people who experienced life as a teenager are familiar with and, depending on your experience, loathe the term “orthodontics.” In layman’s terms, orthodontists are in charge of making sure your smile isn’t crooked and their common weapon of choice is, you guessed it, braces. Dentofacial orthopedics is different from orthodontics in the areas it focuses on treating. While orthodontics is concerned with making your teeth straight and pretty, dentofacial orthopedics is focused on fixing any problems in your jaws and face, such as widening a narrow jaw or fixing an overbite. Despite their slight differences, most orthodontic work involves dentofacial orthopedic work and vice versa.
• Pediatric Dentistry
Remember when you were a kid and after getting your teeth cleaned, you were rewarded with a toy or other kind of treat? Why don’t they do that anymore? Chances are, it’s because you aren’t a child anymore and therefore you are no longer seeing a pediatric dentist! These dentists focus specifically on the oral health of children from infancy through adolescence, including those with special health care needs. Sadly, being an adult means no more treats after a trip to the doctor, although I would argue that kids don’t have to pay for their own stuff, so don’t we deserve free treats more than they do?
We all have that one grandmother who pops out her dentures mid-conversation like it’s no big deal. The prosthodontic branch of dentistry deals with people like your grandmother who have missing or damaged teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues. In short, professionals in this field design, fit and manufacture artificial replacements for oral issues, such as missing teeth. For instance, this is who you would be referred to if you needed to be fitted for a dental implant or dentures.
That’s us! Here at San Antonio Periodontics and Implants, we focus on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease affects the structures that support your teeth, like your gums. In its early stages, periodontal disease is called gingivitis, which happens when the gums are exposed to bacteria and become red and swollen. If periodontal disease persists, patients may even lose their teeth, which is why we are specialists in the placement of dental implants. While prosthodontists manufacture and fit dentures, we actually treat the cause of missing teeth.
How to Choose the Right Specialist
Okay, so now you know what your options are. But how do you choose a specialist? Here are a few helpful tips to aid you in your search:
First and foremost, you need to be sure you can get to the specialist. Make sure their office is close to your home or work and be sure their office hours work for you and your schedule. San Antonio Periodontics and Implants is located at 4501 McCullough Suite 104, San Antonio, Tx, 78212, so if you live in the San Antonio area, you’re in luck! Schedule a visit to come by and see us!
In our society, you need to be able to pay for the services that people provide for you. Check and make sure your potential specialist accepts your insurance and has multiple payment options (personal checks, payment plans, credit cards). Additionally, you should research the cost of your desired service so you can make a plan to pay for it. At San Antonio Periodontics and Implants, we accept most dental insurance, and our insurance coordinators are committed to helping you to get the most out of your insurance plan. We also accept a wide variety of payment options, including cash, personal checks, money orders and most major credit cards. We are willing to work with you so that you can afford our treatment.
Another thing that is important is your personal comfort. You need to be able to talk with your specialist easily about the details of a procedure, as well as what to do to care for yourself afterwards. You don’t want to have somebody poking around in your mouth to whom you don’t feel comfortable expressing pain or anxiety. Meet with your specialist before allowing them to operate on you so that you can gauge your comfort with them. The good news is that you can always trust us here at San Antonio Periodontics and Implants! Our #1 concern is making you comfortable while providing you with the best dental care possible. To ensure your maximum comfort, we feel that you should be fully informed on any procedures you undergo with us. Feel free to ask our staff any questions about your dental health or procedures so that we can keep you informed and relaxed.
You should look into the dentist’s qualifications and be sure that they have the experience necessary for your procedure. Ask the specialist and their staff questions about concerns, such as infection control and dental training. If they are uncomfortable with your questions, or if you aren’t comfortable with their answers to your questions, this might not be the place for you! You can also find information about their qualifications from the local dentist society or your insurance carrier. As mentioned above, San Antonio Periodontics and Implants is willing to answer any questions you might have. Dr. Maller and Dr. Stalker are fully qualified and are aided by a very competent staff. We are all looking forward to helping you in your journey toward a healthier smile.
Finally, ask the people that you trust about their experience with different dental specialists. Ask your general dentist about who they recommend to perform prescribed procedures, ask your sister who she went to when she got her dental implant, look the specialist up on the internet and read others’ reviews of them.
A Specialist Who You Can Always Trust
If you live in the San Antonio area but you can’t find somebody to help with a periodontal-related problem, look no further! At San Antonio Periodontics and Implants, we are here to help with any periodontal-related issues. We provide personalized care, working with your general dentist to make a plan for your individual dental needs. Your comfort is of the utmost importance and we believe that you deserve to have the healthiest teeth possible. Help us make your life more comfortable and healthy by contacting us online or calling 210.824.0111
Thanks for talking about the different specialties someone in the dental industry can have. I like that you pointed out how you likely no longer get rewards after teeth cleanings because those are pediatric dentists. I didn't realize that there was a difference. Since I have a new daughter of my own, I should start looking for a pediatric dentist as her first teeth start to come in.
Our professional and gentle treatment of gum disease, cosmetic procedures and dental implants is personalized.