The 7 Types of Dentists & Their Differences

BY Dr. McDowell  |  August 3rd, 2021
Dr. McDowell
Dr. McDowell has always been focused on using the latest technology to improve the patient experience. From radiation-free imaging to laser dentistry, he has always been ahead of the curve and is dedicated to improving the practice of dentistry one ..

Did you know that there isn’t just one type of dentist? There’s actually up to ten depending on how you consider the differences. Today Wayzata Dental is helping explain the different types of dentists and what they specialize in.

If you need a major oral surgery or oral health improvement, you might need to visit one of these dentists that are different from a general dentist. Let’s look at what some of these professionals do and what their titles are.

Inside the dental office. Chair with dental tools

General Dentist

A general dentist is the most generic of all the types of dentists. It’s the dentist that you’ve seen most of your life. Keep in mind, general dentists are typically not the ones cleaning your teeth during your visit. This is normally done by one of the dental hygienists. General dentists are the ones who come in after the hygienist has finished to provide routine dental exams and occasionally simple procedures such as filling a tooth. This type of dentistry is the most common. When you’re visiting your general dentist, and they’re not qualified for a certain procedure, they’ll refer you to one of these other types of dentists (typically a dental specialist).

Because general dentists will often work with other dentists, they’re usually responsible for some early diagnosis. You can expect them to perform dental X-rays and spend some time educating their patients about the importance of oral health care.

Pedodontists or Pediatric Dentists

This type of dentist specializes in the dental care of children and youths. It’s not always necessary to seek out a pediatric dentist, but if you’re looking for a more kid-focused and kid-friendly approach, this would be the dentist to go to.


If you’ve been to the dentist very much at all, you’ve probably visited the orthodontist to check up on your smile. The orthodontist is a dentist that specializes in teeth and jaw alignment. They’re the dentist that’s responsible for fixing misaligned teeth with braces, retainers, and other similar devices that will make your teeth look perfectly straight.

You might see an orthodontist at a young age or when you’re older, depending primarily on whether or not your parents choose to have your teeth straightened as a child. Some parents choose to wait because kids aren’t as diligent about wearing their retainers and ensuring that their teeth stay aligned.

types of dentists orthodontist


If you have gum diseases or other similar problems, you’ll need to visit a periodontist. These dental specialists are expects in gum health and will be able to provide required treatments for damaged tissue and any progressive gum diseases. Keep in mind that all general dentists are going to be able to help with the prevention of gum problems and maintain dental health.

While the majority of a periodontist’s job is to treat gum disease, some of their job includes performing cosmetic skin grafting on gums. Many individuals feel that they have a “gummy” smile. This dentist can help with that.


Sensitive teeth are the absolute worst thing to deal with. An endodontist is a type of dentist that deals specifically with issues troubling the nerve of the tooth. These dental specialists are qualified to perform root canals and other significant operations when the nerves of teeth are involved. They’ll be able to help you live with a lot less pain in your mouth.

While you may never have to see an endodontist, you should be thankful for that. Without their help to ease the pain of achy teeth, the world would be in trouble.

Oral Pathologists or Oral Surgeons

These surgeons are more like doctors in a lot of ways. They’re specifically qualified to perform treatments of oral diseases in your teeth and jaw. They’ve been specifically trained to perform dental surgery and may work closely with an ear, nose, and throat specialists (Ents) to perform any operations.

The job of an oral surgeon is no small task. They often are tasked with very complex surgeries. Sometimes surgeries to remove cancer help with sleep apnea and different infections that can take place in the face.


If for some reason, you need your teeth or jawbones repaired, this is the dental specialist that would help you. Prosthodontists primarily provide cosmetic dentistry or treatments to improve the appearance of teeth. Think of things like dental implants, whitening, veneers, dentures, crowns, and bridges. Some of the work that they do might be more invasive such as replacing missing teeth.

If you’ve ever heard of a smile makeover or seen a picture of someone that has had it done, then you’d be looking at the work of a prosthodontist. These dental specialists work hard to make sure that their clients smile look perfect.

Other Types of Dentists

Two other dental certifications do exist.

Oral Pathologist

Oral pathologist are dental professionals who study the causes of diseases that alter or affect the oral structures of your mouth as well as parts of the neck and face. By studying these diseases, they can learn how best to treat them and how to help prevent them from happening.

Oral Radiologist

An oral radiologist is a dental professional that is involved in the acquisition and interpretation of the images involving your mouth. They help other dentists diagnose problems and also learn more about any conditions you might be experiencing through the images that they take.

dental specialist with xray

Finding the Right Dentist for You

We hope this post was useful in clearing up the many types of dentists out there. Hopefully, you will not need to visit any of these specialist as you will have excellent dental health! But, for your regular check ups and scenarios where you do need to see a specialist, it is important you have a regular dentist you visit every six months. Ideally, you would try to visit the same dentist and dental hygienist each time as it makes it easier for them to track your dental health throughout your life.

If you want to meet the best general dentist in all of Minnesota, then visit Wayzata Dental in Wayzata, Minnesota. We offer the best deal technology around and friendly service that’s great for kids and adults alike. We even offer cosmetic dentistry and restorative density services.

Reach out to us today to book an appointment over the phone 952-473-4900 or book an appointment online here.

Dr. McDowell
Dr. McDowell has always been focused on using the latest technology to improve the patient experience. From radiation-free imaging to laser dentistry, he has always been ahead of the curve and is dedicated to improving the practice of dentistry one ..