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Dentistry in the US
Today's dentists are highly sophisticated health professionals who provide a wide range of oral health care that contributes to the general health and quality of their patients' lives.
Dentists are trained to treat all patients, adults and children, in many different treatment facilities and settings. In doing so, a general dentist may:
- use the latest techniques and equipment to examine the oral cavity to identify and diagnose oral conditions that may manifest into systemic disease and determine the oral health of the patient;
- use radiographic, computer-generated imaging, and other specialized diagnostic techniques to identify diseases of the teeth, supporting bone and gingival tissues, and other tissues in the oral cavity and head and neck;
- restore and replace teeth damaged by decay, lost from trauma or disease, with newly developed dental materials, implants, and crown and bridge techniques;
- perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum disease;
- extract teeth when necessary using the most up-to-date anesthetic techniques;
- eliminate pain arising from oral diseases, conditions and trauma, making use of prescriptive medicines to reduce pain and discomfort;
- correct mal-positioned teeth to improve chewing, speech, digestion of food and appearance;
- provide instruction and advice on oral health care and preventive measures to maintain healthy oral tissues and prevent oral disease;
- evaluate the overall health of their patients including taking and evaluating comprehensive medical histories;
- oversee the administration and business of private practice and frequently employ and supervise a large number of staff and allied dental personnel to help treat their family of patients.
US dental specialties
Approximately 80% of all US dentists are general dentists. Additional experience, training or education beyond a DMD or DDS allows general dentists to specialize. The American Dental Association formally recognizes 9 specialty areas of dental practice:
Endodontics – diagnosis and treatment of injuries that are specific to the dental nerves and pulp (matter inside the tooth).
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology - study and research of the causes, processes, and effects of diseases with oral manifestations.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology - taking and interpretation of conventional, digital, CT, MRI, and allied imaging modalities of oral-facial structures and disease.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery – diagnostic services and treatment for injuries, diseases, and defects of the neck, head jaw, and associated structures.
Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics – diagnosis and treatment of problems related to irregular dental development, missing teeth, and other abnormalities.
Pediatric Dentistry – treatment of children from birth to adolescence.
Periodontics - corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum disease.
Prosthodontics - restoration and replacement of teeth damaged by decay, lost from trauma or disease, with fixed or removable appliances constructed with newly developed dental material.
Dental Public Health - development of policies and programs, such as health care reform, that affect the community at large.
Allied dental professions
Dental assistants perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory work.
Additional duties vary from state to state, depending on that state's Dental Practice Act, and depending upon how involved the dentist would like the assistant to be.
Dental hygienists are preventive oral health professionals who have graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program in an institution of higher education, licensed in dental hygiene to provide educational, clinical, research, administrative, and therapeutic services supporting total health through the promotion of optimum oral health.
Dental laboratory technology is the art and science of manufacturing corrective devices and replacements for natural teeth. A dental lab technician (also called dental technician) works closely with the dentist, who plans the treatment and places the restoration or corrective device in the patient's mouth.
There are two types of dentistry which call for the skills of a dental lab tech. Restorative (or prosthetic) dentistry is peformed when patients lose teeth through an accident or illness, and the teeth must be replaced to maintain normal functions. Orthodontic treatment is provided when teeth must be moved or stabilized to optimize function or to prevent painful dysfunction.
American Dental Association
211 East Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611-2678
American Dental Association has more than 156,000 dentist members.
It was established in 1859 and it's the world's oldest and largest national dental asssociation.
The Association's official publication is The Journal of the American Dental Association.
American Dental Education Association
1400 K Street, NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) is a national organization representing academic dentistry.
ADEA members are more than 16,000 students, faculty, staff, and administrators from all of the US and Canadian dental schools, many allied and postdoctoral education programs, and numerous corporations working in oral health education.
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