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Blurring the Lines Between the Fields of DentistryYou understand the importance of strong teeth, healthy gums, and a straight smile. But you may not always know the right kind of dentist to see for various types of concerns. Here is a quick breakdown of three of the major areas of dentistry, and their main purposes.

“What is a family dentist?” A family dentist (also called a general dentist, or even a local dentist) is who you see for your routine cleanings and examinations. They perform deep teeth cleanings and place simple fillings, as well as lay the investigative groundwork for more extensive procedures. As the name would indicate, most family dentistry offices can see every member of the family, from infants to grandparents.

“What is a cosmetic dentist?” Cosmetic dentistry deals primarily with the outward appearance of the teeth. Specialists provide veneers, deep teeth cleaning, laser teeth cleaning, even bleaching, as well as more extensive procedures such as veneers or dental implants. The aesthetic component of cosmetic dentistry is obvious, but the restorative aspects of the field are also coming to the fore, as more people realize that a white, straight smile is also a healthy smile.

“What is an orthodontist?” Orthodontists deal with the position of the teeth (from “orthodontia,” literally “straight teeth”). They correct spaces, gaps, crowding, and over- and under-bites, using techniques such as bonding, ligatures, and a host of different braces styles.

As more and more research uncovers new links between oral health and overall health, the lines between the distinct branches of dentistry are beginning to blur. Procedures that were once considered purely cosmetic are now thought to be vital in maintaining oral, digestive, and immunological health. The best dentists recognize this trend, and are branching out into these formerly separate disciplines in order to provide their patients with the best possible all-around care.