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Carlos Bóveda Z.

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Dental Outlook # 2 ©

Tomás Seif R.

Odontólogo Universidad Central de Venezuela

Master of Science The University of Michigan, USA

e-mail:, Office numbers: (58-2) 992.02.42, 992.54.31, 992.78.09

Welcome to this section of the Dental Column.

Hopefully all our readers will enjoy it and have the opportunity to learn about the exciting advances and technologies that modern dentistry has to offer.



So you are faced to going to the dentist?

Should you go to a general dentist or a specialist?

Do you have a specific problem? Which specialist should you visit?

The general dentist is qualified to perform basic dental diagnosis prevention and treatment of the general public. Many general dentists are very skilled individuals and attend meetings to keep updated. If you need a routine check up or basic dentistry your general dentist is able to serve this purpose. Nevertheless, the amount of information in dentistry is extensive and there are many cases that need the intervention of highly trained individuals called "specialists".

As each area of dentistry has become enormously technified and complex, these individuals are trained to perform advanced techniques in order to deliver results that are highly predictable and many times astonishing.

Many dentists tell their patients that they "specialize" in a certain procedure or field. What this might mean is that they are proficient in such an activity but in reality the outcome of treatment in this cases depends mostly on the abilities and good will of these dentists. A good general dentist recognizes his (her) limitations and refers complex cases to the specialists.

As a word of caution, a specialist must have a degree of advanced dental education in a well known University. This takes additional years of post-graduate training depending on the field.



The periodontist also called "gum specialist" is the individual that diagnoses, prevents and treats the diseases of the supporting structures of the teeth (soft tissues "gums" and hard tissues "bone"). These individuals perform advanced procedures in order to preserve these tissues and also remodel them for esthetic reasons. Many of them have special training in implant placement surgery.


The endodontist also called "root canal specialist" is the individual that diagnoses, prevents and treats the diseases of the dental nerves. When the nerve of a tooth is inflamed or dead, these individuals perform advanced procedures in order to remove the nervous tissue of the tooth replacing it with an artificial material. They also perform special surgical procedures for the same reasons.

Pedodontics or pediatric dentistry:

The pedodontist or pediatric dentist specializes in diagnosing, preventing and treating the dental diseases of children and young adults. They have special training in behavioral management and use special techniques and equipment for the younger patients.


The orthodontist is the individual that diagnoses prevents and treats the malposition or misalignment of the teeth. They are the ones that put "braces" on teeth. These individuals have special training in the growth and development patterns of the human scull so they can guide teeth into their normal position in children and adults.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery:

The oral surgeon diagnoses and treats many pathological situations of the face and the oral cavity. This includes removal of wisdom teeth, cysts, tumors, repositioning of bone structures of the upper and lower maxilla, positioning of dental implants and many complex procedures.

Prosthodontics and restorative dentistry:

These professionals "reconstruct or restore" the teeth. It can go from a small cavity, to complex reconstruction's of the dental arches using crowns, bridges (fixed or removable), full dentures or implant supported prosthesis. Many of these individuals have special training in cosmetic procedures such as porcelain veneers, advanced bonding and extensive esthetic reconstructive procedures. It is important for these individuals to have a background in preventive dentistry in order to enhance the longevity of their treatment.

Other specialties in dentistry that can also be mentioned are: oral medicine / pathology, public dental health and oral radiology.

As a rule of thumb specialists only perform procedures that are part of their "specialty". By this I mean that an orthodontist will not do a root canal treatment just as an oral surgeon will not do a crown. Specialists usually network with each other so they function as a team in order to solve complex cases. It is an excellent way to strive for quality in treatment.

I am looking forward to update you with more interesting information about modern dentistry.


Es nuestro interés que la información incluida en esta página sea de su ayuda. Si tiene alguna pregunta puede envíarnos un correo electrónico, o si desea que incluyamos algún tópico en particular en esta sección puede contáctarnos a través de nuestro libro de visitas.



 Carlos Bóveda Z. April 1999