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  • Home Knowledge Center Types of Dental Specialists

    Types of Dental Specialists

    Most people know when to see a general dentist, but what about your dental concerns that are less routine? There are many types of dentist specialists depending on your oral care issue. To help you make choices about specific dental concerns, we’ll review the common types of dentists and dental specialists and when to see each one.

    How many different types of dentist specialists are there?

    Taking care of your teeth is an essential part of staying healthy. Dentists are most often categorized into the following specialties:

    1. General Dentist
    2. Pedodontist or Pediatric Dentist
    3. Orthodontist
    4. Periodontist or Gum Specialist
    5. Endodontist or Root Canal Specialist
    6. Oral Pathologist or Oral Surgeon
    7. Prosthodontist

    These oral health care providers help treat different conditions and parts of your teeth, gums, mouth, and jaw. Typically a dentist specialist has completed additional education and training beyond dental school. Each one of these specialists play an important role in your dental health and overall well-being.

    What types of dental treatment do dentist specialists provide?

    If you have an oral health concern, who should you see? Take a look at these high-level descriptions of each type of dentist specialist and the types of services they often provide.

    General Dentists

    General dentists are primary care oral health providers and are one of the most common types of dentists. You can visit your general dentist for teeth cleanings and routine dental exams. In these exams, a general dentist will evaluate your teeth and gum health as well as conduct treatments such as cavity removal, root canals, and dental crowns.

    Your general dentist will also refer you to other types of dentists if you need services and procedures that they’re not qualified to provide.

    Pedodontists or Pediatric Dentists

    Pediatric dentists specialize in dental care and treatments for children and youth. Also known as pedodontists, pediatric dental specialists care for children as young as infants up to teenagers.

    Pediatric dental specialists offer youth-friendly approaches to routine dental care as well as pediatric-specific dental issues. A pedodontist will monitor a child’s teeth and oral development, referring them to an orthodontist, when needed.


    Orthodontists specialize in teeth and jaw alignment, using wires, braces, retainers, and other devices. If you have an overbite, underbite, crossbite, or misaligned teeth, you may be referred to an orthodontist for correction.

    Periodontists or Gum Specialists

    Periodontists help treat and repair diseases and problems of the gums. While a general dentist will support gum disease prevention, a periodontist will provide treatment (including minor surgery) for tissue damaged by progressive gum disease. You may also be referred to a periodontist for dental implants.

    Endodontists or Root Canal Specialists

    Endodontists deal specifically with issues affecting the nerve of a tooth and the pain associated with it. They are qualified to perform root canals that may be necessary when there is decay around the tooth’s nerve.

    Oral Pathologists and Oral Surgeons

    Oral pathologists and oral surgeons specialize in the treatment of oral diseases of the teeth and jaw. Conditions may include impacted wisdom teeth, oral reconstruction, misaligned jaws, and cancers of the mouth, head, and neck. They are trained to perform oral surgery and may work closely with ear, nose, and throat specialists (ENTs) to treat issues such as sleep apnea and facial trauma.


    Prosthodontists repair teeth and jaw bones. They provide cosmetic dentistry, or treatments to improve the appearance of teeth, such as teeth whitening and veneers. They also fit people with dentures, crowns, and bridges.

    How do I know which type of dentistry I need?

    When you have a dental concern, your general dentist or even your primary care physician can refer you for any types of dentistry they’re not qualified to provide.

    It’s important to see your general dentist at least once a year – not just for teeth cleaning, but for an examination that ensures your oral health. Receiving a professional opinion will help you manage any potential problems before they become bigger problems. See your general dentist immediately if you’re experiencing any pain in your mouth.

    For dental emergencies – such as a chipped tooth, a tooth filling falling out, or tooth abscess – talking to your general dentist should be your first step.

    Does dental insurance have coverage for dentist specialists?

    Dental insurance plans typically cover two routine cleanings per year. Depending on your plan, you may have some coverage for dental specialists, too. To obtain dental coverage, you can:

    • Choose a dental plan through your employer, if offered
    • Buy your own plan through a health insurance carrier like Cigna HealthcareSM that sells dental insurance plans directly to individuals
    • Buy a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace

    Review your individual plan details to see if it covers things like orthodontic services, oral surgery, or other dental treatments. Make sure you understand your coverage information to avoid paying for unexpected costs. If you have any questions, it’s best to contact your insurer to learn what your plan covers.


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    Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of The Cigna Group Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT). The Cigna Healthcare name, logo, and other Cigna Healthcare marks are owned by The Cigna Group Intellectual Property, Inc.

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