Dentistry is the branch of medicine that is involved in the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body. Dentistry is widely considered necessary for complete overall health. Doctors who practice dentistry are known as dentists. The dentist’s supporting team – which includes dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and dental therapists – aids in providing oral health services.
Dental surgery and treatmentsDentistry usually encompasses very important practices related to the oral cavity. Oral diseases are major public health problems due to their high incidence and prevalence across the globe with the disadvantaged affected more than other socio-economic groups.
The majority of dental treatments are carried out to prevent or treat the two most common oral diseases which are dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal disease (gum disease or pyorrhea). Common treatments involve the restoration of teeth as a treatment for dental caries (fillings), extraction or surgical removal of teeth which cannot be restored, scaling of teeth to treat periodontal problems and endodontic root canal treatment to treat abscessed teeth.
All dentists in the United States undergo four years of undergraduate studies, followed by four years of dental school to qualify as a “Doctor of Dental Surgery” (DDS) or “Doctor of Dental Medicine” (DMD). Dentists need to complete additional qualifications or training to carry out more complex treatments such as sedation, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and dental implants.
By nature of their general training they can carry out the majority of dental treatments such as restorative (fillings,crowns, bridges), prosthetic (dentures), endodontic (root canal) therapy, periodontal (gum) therapy, and exodontia (extraction of teeth), as well as performing examinations, radiographs (x-rays) and diagnosis. Dentists can also prescribe medications such as antibiotics, sedatives, and any other drugs used to manage the patient.
PreventionDentists also encourage prevention of oral diseases through proper hygiene and regular checkups. Conditions in the oral cavity may be indicative of systemic diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, or cancer. Multiple studies have also shown that gum disease is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and preterm birth.