We all are aware of what an important role our dentist plays in our overall oral health. He or she is your “go-to” clinician for routine procedures that include teeth cleanings, cavity fillings, sealants, crowns and other restorations. To become a dentist, each has completed a post-graduate, four-year doctorate degree in dentistry. For conditions that fall outside the scope of their training, a general dentist will generally refer patients and coordinate treatment with a specialist. In some cases, however, a general dentist will try to do it all. Before agreeing to let your general dentist to perform procedures that might be better left to a specialist, find out a few things:
- Does your general dentist rightfully possess the necessary qualifications to perform the prescribed procedure?
- Has your general dentist had post-graduate training to perform the procedure?
- Is there a specialist in your community who specializes in the procedure that has been prescribed?
- Does your general dentist have the right equipment and trained staff to perform the procedure?
- Has your dentist enrolled in legitimate continuing education courses?
- What is the motivation behind offering procedures beyond his or her training?
If you are not comfortable with the answers to the questions above, there are many dental specialists that are properly trained and prepared to treat you:
- Oral Surgeon: Experts in mouth, face and jaw surgery
- Periodontist: Experts in treating periodontal disease (gums)
- Orthodontist: Experts in the treatment of improper bite and crooked teeth
- Pediatric Dentist: Experts dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through 16 years old
- Prosthodontist: Experts in the esthetic restoration and replacement of teeth
When your general dentist refers you to a specialist, you can feel confident that he/she has your best interest at heart and appreciates the expertise of a specialist. Before agreeing to advanced dental procedures in your general dentist’s office, consider consulting with a specialist for peace of mind and confidence for a successful outcome.