What Is the Scope of a General Dentist?

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If you have some dental issues you may be confused about who to contact. You may be wondering if you need a general dentist or a specialist and you may be wondering what the differences are between them. The purpose of this blog is to alleviate that confusion.

Who is a general dentist?
A general dentist is a primary care dental provider, meaning you often see them first when there is a problem and they diagnose the issue and create a treatment plan. Anyone that completes dental school and passes requisite board exams emerges a licensed general dentist. General dentist’s diagnoses treat and manage your overall oral health care needs, including preventative care and education, fillings, crowns, veneers, gum care, root canals and bridges.

What are the dentistry specialties and what do they do?
Many dentists then choose to further their education and enter into a specialty. Specialties include Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral Medicine, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics, Prosthodontics and Dental Anesthesiology.

Endodontist- concerned with the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth for example root canals.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist- interpreting of all types of radiographs and data used in the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region.

Oral Medicine- diagnosis and management of oral diseases including oral cancer, lichen planus, candidiasis, and aphthous stomatitis.

Oral Pathologist- studies the causes of diseases that alter or affect the oral structures (teeth, lips, cheeks, jaws) as well as parts of the face and neck. Oral pathologists examine and provide a diagnosis of the biopsy, tissue, or lesion sent to them by other oral health care providers.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon- performs many types of surgical procedures in and about the entire face, mouth, and jaw area. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat accident victims who suffer facial injuries and offer reconstructive and dental implant surgery.

Orthodontist- responsible for understanding facial growth patterns and for straightening teeth by moving them through bone by the use of bands, wires, braces, and other fixed or removable corrective appliances or retainers.

Pediatric Dentist/Pedodontists- specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the dental problems of children from the age of one or two to early adulthood.

Periodontist- specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases of the soft tissues of the mouth (the gums) and the supporting structures (bones) of the teeth (both natural and man-made teeth).

Prosthodontist- uses artificial teeth (dentures) or crowns/bridges to replace the missing or extracted teeth.

Dental Anesthesiologist- controls a patient’s pain and discomfort using advanced general and local sedation during procedures.

Dr. Spear’s Comprehensive Training
Dr. Spear received his BA at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. Upon graduation from Hendrix, he spent four years at Oklahoma City at the OU Health Sciences Center from which he achieved his DDS degree. Following dental school, he completed a General Practice Residency (GPR) at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This opportunity gave him intimate experiences in all specialties of dentistry, and pursuing what was one of his favorites of the specialties, he completed an Oral and Facial Surgery Internship at JPS Hospital in Fort Worth, TX. So, Dr. Spear has had the education to allow him to perform and master procedures outside the scope of the bread and butter dentistry. These include implant placement, wisdom teeth removal and other soft tissue surgeries. Their use in the comprehensive care of a patient is invaluable.

For Dr. Spear, continuing education is the driver of successful dentistry. It allows for refinement through continually learning to provide the best for his patients. He has received his Fellowships in the Academy of General Dentistry and International Congress of Implantology in this process.

Dr. Spear is currently enrolled in the MasterTrack with the Academy Of General Dentistry to receive his Masters In the Academy of General Dentistry.

Due to his extensive training and continued education, he is able to confidently do all procedures that a general dentist can do with ease for his patients. You can trust that whether you are needing a filling or a complete smile makeover you are in good hands with Dr. Spear and his team.