According to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are 201,117 dentists practicing in the United States as of 2020. With this many dentists to choose from, you should have no problem finding a dental care professional. But do you actually need a dentist? Depending on the treatment you are likely to require, you may be better served by an oral surgeon.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) reports that there are currently more than 9,000 oral surgeons working in the United States. These dental care professionals are less common than dentists as they offer a narrower, more specialist range of services.
This article will explore the difference between dentists and oral surgeons to help you make an informed decision about which type of dental professional can best meet your needs.
What Is a Dentist?
Dentists are medical professionals who have acquired a bachelor’s degree and completed four to five years of dental school. To get into dental school, applicants must take and pass the Dental Admissions Test, which focuses on natural sciences, reasoning ability, and comprehension.
Upon graduating dental school, a qualified dentist may choose to begin practicing dentistry right away or further their training by pursuing a speciality. The ADA recognize nine dental specialities. They are:
- Dental public health
- Oral and maxillofacial pathology
- Oral and maxillofacial radiology
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery
Whether specialized or not, all dentists diagnose and treat conditions affecting the mouth or teeth. This includes:
- Giving advice on maintaining dental health
- Performing fillings, root canals, crowns, veneers, bridges, and extractions
- The treatment of abscesses
Dentists either use the acronym DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine).