All the operators belonging to the world of dentistry have different roles and each of them has well-defined competencies and specializations. The patients, however, not working in the sector, are not always able to distinguish the differences between one professional figure and another, for many the word “dentist” contains many all the tasks related to dentistry.
In this article, we try to clarify and get to know the people to whom we entrust our smile.
The cases of false dentists who practice the profession without having the qualification and above all the skills are on the agenda. This abuse of the dental profession causes enormous risks for patients: postoperative complications, lacking hygienic-sanitary conditions, failure to evaluate the interventions, are just some of the problems that can arise when we let our hands be put in the mouth by unqualified and without proven clinical experience.
However, even a dentist who specializes in a specific area may not have the skills to solve problems relating to other branches of dentistry very well.
Professionals in dentistry: we clarify roles
difference between dental professions Before proceeding with a more detailed description of the professions in dentistry, we make a very simple summary of who can do what.
ORAL AND MAXILLOFACIAL SURGEON (OMS): graduated in Medicine then specialized in Maxillofacial Surgery;
ODONTOLOGIST / GENERAL DENTIST (DDS): graduated in Medicine and Surgery by 1980 and qualified for professional practice; graduated in Medicine and Surgery and then specialized in Odonto-stomatology (this specialist no longer exists); graduated in Dentistry and Dental Prosthesis.
It, therefore, appears evident that the terms Odontologist and Dentist are synonymous and therefore should not be confused with each other. Each dentist can choose after his graduation to devote himself to all the branches without preferring any, or he can follow a course of specialization or improvement in one or more branches of Dentistry, configuring what is the figure of the specialist Dentist.
The existing specializations are Orthodontics, Oral Surgery, and Pediatric Dentistry.
The other qualifications that can be obtained, namely Periodontist, Gnathologist, Prosthodontist, Implantologist, Endodontist, are not the result of specialists, but of Specialization Courses, Masters and other titles.
All these professionals can visit, operate, prescribe therapies, perform dental extractions, perform interventions, take impressions, plan an implant surgery, fix orthodontic appliances, perform oral hygiene interventions. An exception to this is the Maxillofacial Surgeon, which deals only with the jaw bones and normally does not visit in a dental practice, but in a hospital.
Now, let’s go into the specific skills of everyone:
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (OMS)
Its task consists in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that do not properly affect the oral cavity, but concern the maxilla, the jaw, and the face, through complex surgical operations or operations involving bone structures.
Maxillofacial surgeons do not have a dental practice as they are not qualified to treat tooth decay, to perform devitalization or tooth cleaning; they normally receive privately or in a hospital facility. For example, the Maxillofacial surgeon deals with the treatment of any fractures of the Maxilla and Mandible that can occur following trauma.
The dentist is a doctor enrolled in the Register of Dentists at the Order of Surgeons and Dentists of the Country he belongs to and the patient can, at any time, check his qualifications by calling the Order.
The dentist takes care of the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of all diseases of the oral cavity, but also of the tissues that support the teeth, the jaw bone and finally mucous membranes and glands.
Furthermore, the dentist can take a specialization or a specialization and take care of a specific sector of the world of dentistry, becoming:
Is a dentist who studies the abnormalities of the formation, development, and alignment of teeth. Its task is to prevent and treat malocclusions (dental or skeletal anomalies) and to make sure that the teeth are in the correct position, thus ensuring optimal chewing. He is the reference specialist for therapies with orthodontic appliances.
He is a dentist that deals with the development of various dental prostheses and very often works in close contact with the implantologist, who, instead, positions the implants that will support the prostheses.
It is a dentist specialized in the internal tissues of the tooth, the dental pulp, and intervenes in cases in which caries are present or following traumas, which include treatments such as, for example, Devitalization also known as Root Canal.
It deals with the diagnosis of some pathologies that affect the periodontium, which is all those tissues that act as a support for the teeth.
5) Pediatric dentist (Pedodontist)
The pedodontist is a dentist who takes care of the health of the mouth of the little ones. It is the medical figure that every parent should accompany the pediatrician, to allow their child to grow up with a dazzling smile. The pedodontist is, therefore, a specialist who deals with the prevention of caries and the early diagnosis of any malocclusions.
The gnathologist is a dentist who deals with problems and disorders related to the joints of the mouth. He is able to intercept the causes of muscular pains in the head and neck, continuous headaches, and resolve any limited openings in the mouth.
The implantologist is a dentist who deals in particular with the insertion of dental implants, following a loss of teeth. It can be specialized in immediate loading implant operations or can perform more traditional interventions such as deferred loading implantology.
Sometimes it can be confused with the Maxillofacial surgeon, but in reality, they are completely different roles: its task concerns purely or exclusively implant surgery.
The other collaborators of the smile
There are also some figures who assist the activity of the professionals mentioned above. In particular:
DENTAL TECHNICIAN or TECHNICIAN: it is a technical health profession (which can be accessed with a secondary school diploma), it is nothing but the craftsman who makes dental prostheses; he deals with the realization of the artifacts (precisely handmade) prosthetic, which the dentist requires.
ASSISTANT TO THE ARMCHAIR: A specific qualification is required, but it is sufficient to have obtained a secondary school diploma. However, there are special courses to train competent and up-to-date chair assistants; this figure can be defined as “instrumentalist of the study”: he prepares the operating field, passes the instruments to the dentist, sterilizes them and sucks the fluids from the patient’s oral cavity through the aspirator. It should not be confused with the dental hygienist, even if many studies, illegally, attribute this task to assistants; therefore it is necessary for the patient to know well who will take care of his health, not only for personal culture but also for his safety. Difference between dentist and dental hygienist
DENTAL HYGIENIST: it is a title that once was achieved with a university degree (old legislation), but today requires a three-year degree. He is a healthcare professional who works independently, often in collaboration with the dentist, and is responsible for the prevention, cleaning, and whitening of teeth. It is the only one who, together with surgeons and dentists, has the authorization to put his hands in the patient’s mouth.
It is necessary to highlight that the dental technician and the dental assistant cannot possibly visit, operate, prescribe therapies, perform dental extractions, perform interventions, take impressions, plan an implant surgery, fix orthodontic appliances.
As we have seen, analyzing all the professionals who orbit the complex world of dentistry, it is very easy for the patient to get confused and not know who to rely on for his problems, but it is important that he knows, based on what we have analyzed so far, that the only professionals who can operate directly in the oral cavity of the patient are the Dentist (including all the mentioned specialists) and the Hygienist.
Relying on appropriate dental professionals means securing your oral health and, in general, your well-being.
When choosing a dental center rather than another, carefully check that the necessary certifications are displayed, including health authorizations.
If you do not trust the framed and hanging titles on the walls and want to be sure that you are in the right place, it is sufficient to do a search on the site of the National Federation of Surgeons and Dentists, entering the surname of the dentist in the “registry search “, And you will know all the official data of the subscriber.
Pay close attention and above all do not put your health at risk and for a cheap price, the expertise costs, but your well-being is worth much more.
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