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At Dental Specialty Associates, we know that some oral procedures can be a little more scary than others, if for no other reason than the long, confusing dentistry titles of your oral care providers. Sometimes even just knowing what each doctor does is enough to make you feel better about an upcoming procedure.

To that end, we’ve put together the the most noteworthy cheat sheet to dental specializations and what each specialty involves. Here are the top dentistry titles, decoded.

General Dentist

General dentists are the doctors that most people will see on an average dental visit. Dentists specialize in oral health, including teeth, gums, the tongue, salivary glands, and more. To become a dentist, one must earn a bachelor’s degree and another four-year degree in dentistry at an accredited dental school.

Every oral doctor starts out as a general dentist, but after graduating from dental school may choose to specialize in one of the nine areas recognized by the American Dental Association. Of those nine specialty areas, five are represented at Dental Specialty Associates.


Endodontists are dentists who specialize in the tooth’s inner pulp or root. After dental school they have to complete at least two years of additional training in endodontic therapy, or root canal treatment, and often focus on the more difficult cases. The average endodontist performs 25 root canal procedures in a given week, according to the American Association of Endodontists, while the average dentist performs only two.


Orthodontists specialize in correcting structural irregularities in the face, jaw and teeth. This may be done by fitting a patient with a retainer or braces, either metal or clear. Dentists must complete a two- or three-year residency in orthodontics before they may become an orthodontist.

Oral Surgeon

Oral surgeons specialize in the treatment of more severe dental and facial conditions and defects through surgical procedures. These procedures include extractions, implant placements, and oral reconstruction. They must undergo an intensive four-year program following dental school, in which they train alongside medical residents in a hospital setting. Therefore, it is one of the nine specializations recognized by the American Dental Association.


Periodontists specialize in the treatment of the gingiva, or gums. This may include the treatment and prevention of periodontal disease, or gum disease. In addition, cosmetic procedures they perform include gum contouring or implants. After dental school, a dentist must complete three years of additional training to full qualify as a periodontist.


Prosthodontists specialize in replacing teeth through prosthetics, including crowns, implants, veneers, and dentures. To become a prosthodontist, a dentist undergoes three years of additional training in a program accredited by the American Dental Association. Consequently, prosthodontists work with patients to replace teeth missing for any number of reasons, from traumatic injuries to natural decay to genetic abnormalities.

Therefore, if you think you may need an appointment with one of our highly qualified dental specialists, call Dental Specialty Associates. Our Phoenix phone number is 602-795-5995 and our Gilbert phone number is 480-633-9977.