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The Difference Between General Dentists and Specialists

Just like medicine, not all dentistry is of a general nature. When you visit your GP, one of their roles is to decide whether to refer you to a specialist.

Likewise with dentistry. When you see a dentist, they assess whether your needs are best met by themselves or by a specialist.

Broadly, there are six main fields of dental specialisation:

  • Prosthodontics – concerned with the design, manufacture, and fitting of artificial replacements for teeth, including veneers, crowns and bridges
  • Periodontics – treatment of the structures surrounding and supporting the teeth, including gum lifts, placement of implants and management of periodontal (gum) disease
  • Orthodontics – treatment of irregularities of alignment and bite of the teeth and jaw, including the use of fixed metallic and clear plastic braces
  • Endodontics – the branch of dentistry dealing with diseases of the dental pulp (the living tissue and cells inside both the tooth and its roots); a common treatment performed by endodontists is root canal therapy
  • Oral & maxillofacial surgery, and paediatric (children’s) dentistry.

Should you see a general dentist or a specialist for your treatment?

In Australia, all dental specialists are required to be registered with the Dental Board of Australia and are listed on the website of the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency. While general dentists are allowed to perform the majority of dental procedures, by law certain procedures may only be performed by a registered specialist.

You may choose to have specialist work performed by a general dentist for reasons of affordability or in emergency cases where immediate treatment is necessary. Your dentist should always inform you of the option to see a specialist where available; otherwise it is recommended that you ask about this.

At Smile Solutions, all 45 of our specialists, general dentists and hygienists work together in the one location, and between them they cover all of the above areas. This means that you will always be treated appropriately within the shortest possible time. Not only is this particularly important in an emergency but it also enables a high level of communication – and hence a better outcome – between all the clinicians treating you.

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