Finding a new dentist can be a daunting task, especially when you’ve moved to a new town or need help in a hurry. So how do you know which dentist to choose? While getting recommendations from a trusted friend may land you with a good fit, your needs may be vastly different. Knowing what your new dentist specializes in is a good place to start your research.
To start, if you’re tripped up on abbreviations, then here’s some information. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the letters that come after the dentist’s name, DDS (doctor of dental surgery) or DMD (doctor of dental medicine), recognize the same degree, it just depends on what the dental school calls the degree.
Beyond that distinction, the ADA recognizes several specialties, like endodontics, those who specialize in the health of the dental pulp (i.e., root canals); oral and maxillofacial pathology, radiology and/or surgery (to include aesthetics and function of the mouth, face and jaw); orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, who deal with misalignment and skeletal issues; periodontics, who treat gum disease; and prosthodontics, who address the function, comfort and aesthetics of missing or malfunctioning teeth.
While a family dentist primarily focuses on your oral health and maintenance, a cosmetic dentist (who may fall under any of the specialties recognized by the ADA) may perform some of those tasks, like filling cavities, while improving the look of your smile through aesthetic approaches like crowns, veneers, bonding, dental implants and more. To ensure good results, your cosmetic dentist keeps the health of your teeth and gums at the forefront.
Beyond specialty, be sure to choose someone who listens to your concerns, takes the time to answer questions thoroughly and provides you with options that fit your needs and budget. If a smile makeover is in your future, asking to see before-and-after photos of previous patients can give you a good idea of what your results may look like too.
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