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There are so many different kinds of dentist specializations that it can be difficult to figure out who does what. We break down which kind of dentist to consult for permanent tooth replacement you should see.

Going to the dentist can be a little bit more complicated than you might first think, especially when you start to get into the nitty-gritty of things. Just like medicine, dentistry also has various fields that dentists specialize in [1]. These can be as specific as gums (periodontist), braces (orthodontics), or root canals (endodontist) or more generalized like public health dentistry. So, which kind of dentist to consult for permanent tooth replacement?

The answer could be one of three possible specializations depending upon what kind of procedure has been planned.

Which kind of dentist to consult for dental implants?

Dental implants can be practiced by a dentist of any specialty or even a general dentist providing they have had sufficient additional training in the subject. There are two fields of dentistry that deal in detail with the surgical aspect of dental implantology as well as the various mechanisms of healing that are taking place. These two types of dentists are the oral and maxillofacial surgeons [2] or the periodontists [3].

Their specialties include a detailed and in-depth study of the steps required to place dental implants, something which short courses into dental implants may not be able to provide.

Not only are these two kinds of dentists the best trained to place dental implants, they are also the best trained to notice any potential complications  [4], deal with failures [5], and carry out advanced procedures to help augment the bone around the implants [6].

In straightforward cases where the bone is abundant, the patient is young, and the access to the site is perfect, the amount of training is going to matter little as the conditions are almost perfect for even a beginner dental implant practitioner.

In more complex cases, however, where the bone has to be augmented, or the sinus has to be lifted [7], or the nerve has to be repositioned [8], we would recommend going only to a skilled specialist that has years of perfuming these kinds of procedures.

Apart from oral surgeons and periodontists, there is a third kind of dental specialty that deals with dental implants in quite a bit of detail. This branch is called prosthodontics.

A prosthodontist is a dentist that deals with the fabrication of the prosthesis on top of a natural tooth or a dental implant. Considering the fact that patients walk into the dental clinic looking for a tooth rather than a dental implant, their job is possibly the most important in the entire process.

Most dentists will consult with a prosthodontist and plan the final prosthesis first before working backward towards placing a dental implant. Prosthodontists may or may not have received a great amount of training in the surgical procedures themselves so they do not always perform the surgical steps, but they will almost always be involved at some stage of the dental implant placement process [9[.    

Which kind of dentist to consult for dental crowns and bridges?

This field of work actually falls under general dentistry, which means that any kind of dentist will have received an adequate amount of training in these procedures. We recommend you stick with your trusted dentist if you already have one.

However, if you are looking for a dentist who specializes in dental crowns and bridges then you should definitely look for a prosthodontist.

As mentioned earlier, a prosthodontist studies and learns about the techniques of fabrication of dental crowns and bridges in greater detail than any other kind of dentist. In simple straightforward cases this specialized skill may not be required or make much of a difference but in complex cases where the height of the teeth is inadequate or the support that they are providing is compromised, a prosthodontist will be able to plan the treatment more effectively than any other kind of dentist [10].

Conclusion

It can be difficult to determine which dentist is of which specialty because the large majority of dentists are practicing general dentistry alongside their specialty as well. The overlap between what which type dentist can do only worsens this situation.

The answer to which type of dentist to consult for permanent teeth replacement often begins with a consultation with a general dentist who should then be able to guide the patient as the specialist needed to be consulted.

In general, though, we stick to the fact that oral surgeons, periodontists, and prosthodontists are likely to be better trained than other types of dentists in the field of dental implantology. Similarly, a prosthodontist is easily the dentist who spends most time raining in making dental crowns and bridges and so is much more likely to be able to deal with complicated cases in an efficient manner.      

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