What is Dentistry?A dentist provides oral (mouth) health care, ranging from routine cleanings all the way to oral surgery. Dentistry is about more than just teeth: dentists also care for a patient's jaw, tongue, lips, and salivary glands; they even check for signs of disease in the head and neck. A dentist has a number of jobs they perform to keep their patients healthy. They examine areas inside and around the mouth to look for unusual lumps or swelling that could indicate a problem, and they take biopsies if needed. They educate their patients not only about the daily care of their teeth and gums, but also about proper nutrition and not using tobacco. Of course, teeth are their main focus, and dentists know how to treat them right. A dentist can clean, repair, remove, replace, or reposition teeth in order to prevent and treat disease. Some disorders of the mouth and teeth require special treatment and surgery. Although a general dentist can perform minor surgical procedures such as tooth extractions, when it comes to more specialized oral care, there are dentists who have chosen to focus their education and experience in certain areas. These subspecialties include:
- Endodontics, the specialty that focuses on the pulp and nerves inside the tooth (endodontists often perform root canals)
- Pediatric Dentistry, which is dental care specifically tailored towards children
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, which deals with surgery of the jaws and lower face; this can include everything from trauma after an accident to removal of wisdom teeth
- Prosthodontics, the specialty of replacing missing teeth or bone within the mouth with prosthetics, or manufactured parts
- Orthodontics, which involves aligning the teeth and shaping the jaw using braces
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