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Dental Assistant Guide

Introduction to Dental Specialties

There are nine dental specialties approved by the Council on Dental Education and Licensure of the American Dental Association (ADA). These are:

  • Dental public health: Dental public health is the dental specialty devoted to promoting public dental health and preventing and controlling dental diseases through community and public education.

  • Endodontics: Endodontics is the dental specialty focused on the morphology, physiology, and pathology of the periradicular (tooth root) tissues and human dental pulp.

  • Oral and maxillofacial pathology: Oral and maxillofacial pathology deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the regions of the mouth, jaw, and adjacent parts of the face.

  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery: Oral and maxillofacial surgery is the dental specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, surgical, and related treatment of diseases, injuries, and deficiencies of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial regions. These specialists address functional and aesthetic aspects of the areas treated.

  • Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics: Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics is the specialty concerned with guiding and correcting children's and adults’ dentofacial structures.

  • Pediatric dentistry: Pediatric dentistry is the dental specialty that is devoted to providing primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic dental health care from infancy through adolescence. Pediatric dentists also provide dental care to children with special healthcare needs.

  • Periodontics: Periodontics involves the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the tissues supporting and surrounding the teeth. The specialty also focuses on the maintenance of healthy gums and supporting dental tissues.

  • Prosthodontics: Prosthodontics is the specialty concerned with the restoration of natural and replacement teeth, as well as contiguous oral and maxillofacial tissues.

  • Oral and maxillofacial radiology: No definition has yet been approved by the ADA House of Delegates for this newly granted dental specialty. However, these specialists use imaging techniques to assist general dentists and other oral health specialists in the diagnostic assessment of diseases of the head and neck.

Hilton, L. (2018). Dental specialties. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), Gale virtual reference library: The Gale encyclopedia of nursing and allied health (4th ed.).

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