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Whether you have minor issues with your mouth or need a major makeover, remember that your oral health should not be taken lightly. Everything starts with your mouth. Think about it, your body needs nutritious foods, and you want to do that, you need your teeth to be able to eat healthy foods!

Dental professionals are there to help you take care of your oral health. But first of all, you need to be able to see the difference between dentist and dental specialist and to know what they can do to help you with.

Let’s start with dentists. You probably see your dentist at twice a year to make sure your teeth are in good shape. Dentists are licensed doctors by the Royal College of Dentist of Canada and they lead the dental team to monitor and improve your overall dental health. Taking care of your teeth and gums is not their only job! They manage your overall oral health with an intra-oral and extra oral clinical examination and X-rays. Dentists are also the ones who make the diagnostics and general treatment plans for your dentition. Restoring damaged teeth, assessing your overall gum health, screening for oral cancer, monitoring the eruption sequence of your child teeth, are other example of the many responsibilities a dentist has.

When something more specific needs to be assessed or if you require specialised treatments or procedures; your dentist will refer you to a dental specialist. As an example, if your teeth need realignment, your dentist will refer you to an orthodontist.

In Canada, there are nine nationally recognized dental specialties:

  • Dental Public Health: Dental Public Health is that branch and specialty of dentistry concerned with the diagnosis, prevention and control of dental diseases and the promotion of oral health.
  • Endodontics: Endodontics is that branch and specialty of dentistry concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the dental pulp and periradicular tissues.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Oral and maxillofacial surgery is that branch and specialty of dentistry which is concerned with and includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of disorders, diseases, injuries and defects, involving the functional and aesthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial regions and related structures.
  • Oral Medicine and Pathology: Oral Medicine and Pathology is the branch and specialty of dentistry concerned with the diagnosis, nature and primarily non-surgical management of oral, maxillofacial and temporomandibular diseases and disorders, including dental management of patients with medical complications
  • Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology: Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology is that branch and specialty of dentistry concerned with the prescription, production and interpretation of diagnostic images for the diagnosis and management of diseases and disorders of the craniofacial complex.
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics: Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is that branch and specialty of dentistry concerned with the supervision, guidance and correction of the growing or mature dentofacial structures and the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of any abnormalities associated with these structures.
  • Pediatric Dentistry: Pediatric Dentistry is that branch and specialty of dentistry concerned with providing primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health diagnosis, care and consultative expertise for infants and children through adolescence, including those of all ages with special care needs.
  • Periodontics: Periodontics is that branch and specialty of dentistry concerned with the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and aesthetics of these structures and tissues.
  • Prosthodontics: Prosthodontics is that branch and specialty of dentistry concerned with the diagnosis, restoration and maintenance of oral function, comfort, appearance and health of the patient by the restoration of the natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth and contiguous oral and maxillofacial tissues with artificial substitutes.

Each specialist has between 2 to 5 additional years of specialised training after they became a dentist.  The oral and maxillofacial surgeons have the lead for the longest training!

So why do we need so many specialists? The mouth and the jaws are actually very complex structures. By referring to different specialists for  a specific assessment and/or treatment, it allows the general dentist to get some assistance in a specific area of his treatment plan and to make sure his patient receives the best treatment available.  The general dentist and the specialist work as a team to coordinate their treatment and to offer you the most personalised and beneficial outcome. They all have the same goal: improving your oral health!

Remember, unlike with medicine and medical specialists, no reference is required to consult a dental specialist. You can just decide to contact one on your own if you wish to have something specific assessed.

If you do need to see an orthodontist, be sure to stop by Wellington Village Orthodontics for all of your orthodontic needs! Take a look at us out online at, or call us at 613-722-8500 to make an appointment today.