A dentist is a person qualified by a doctorate in dental surgery (D.D.S.) or dental medicine (D.M.D.), licensed by the state to practice dentistry, and practicing within the scope of that license. There is no difference between the two degrees: dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education. Universities have the prerogative to determine what degree is awarded. Both degrees use the same curriculum requirements set by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation. Generally, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is required to graduate and become a general dentist. State licensing boards accept either degree as equivalent, and both degrees allow licensed individuals to practice the same scope of general dentistry. Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist.
- General Practice
A general dentist is the primary dental care provider for patients of all ages. The general dentist is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services related to patients' oral health needs.
- Dental Hygienist
An individual who has completed an accredited dental hygiene education program, and an individual who has been licensed by a state board of dental examiners to provide preventive care services under the supervision of a dentist. Functions that may be legally delegated to the dental hygienist vary based on the needs of the dentist, the educational preparation of the dental hygienist and state dental practice acts and regulations, but always include, at a minimum, scaling and polishing the teeth. To avoid misleading the public, no occupational title other than dental hygienist should be used to describe this dental auxiliary.
- Pediatric Dentistry
An age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs.
- Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
That area of dentistry concerned with the supervision, guidance and correction of the growing or mature dentofacial structures, including those conditions that require movement of teeth or correction of malrelationships and malformations of their related structures and the adjustment of relationships between and among teeth and facial bones by the application of forces and/or the stimulation and redirection of functional forces within the craniofacial complex. Major responsibilities of orthodontic practice include the diagnosis, prevention, interception and treatment of all forms of malocclusion of the teeth and associated alterations in their surrounding structures; the design, application and control of functional and corrective appliances; and the guidance of the dentition and its supporting structures to attain and maintain optimum occlusal relations in physiologic and esthetic harmony among facial and cranial structures.
The branch of dentistry that is concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues. Its study and practice encompass the basic and clinical sciences including biology of the normal pulp, the etiology, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.
That specialty of dentistry which encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues.
That branch of dentistry pertaining to the restoration and maintenance of oral functions, comfort, appearance and health of the patient by the restoration of natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth and contiguous oral and maxillofacial tissues with artificial substitutes.
- Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
The specialty of dentistry which includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.
- Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology
The specialty of dentistry and discipline of radiology concerned with the production and interpretation of images and data produced by all modalities of radiant energy that are used for the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region.
- Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology
The specialty of dentistry and discipline of pathology that deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. It is a science that investigates the causes, processes, and effects of these diseases. The practice of oral and maxillofacial pathology includes research and diagnosis of diseases using clinical, radiographic, microscopic, biochemical, or other examinations.
- Dental Public Health
The science and art of preventing and controlling dental diseases and promoting dental health through organized community efforts. It is that form of dental practice that serves the community as a patient rather than the individual. It is concerned with the dental health education of the public, with applied dental research, and with the administration of group dental care programs as well as the prevention and control of dental diseases on a community basis.