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Dentists diagnose, prevent, and treat problems of the teeth and tissues of the mouth. They remove decay, fill cavities, examine x rays, place protective plastic sealants on children's teeth, straighten teeth, and repair fractured teeth. They also perform corrective surgery of the gums and supporting bones to treat gum diseases. Dentists extract teeth and make molds and measurements for dentures to replace missing teeth. Dentists provide instruction in diet, brushing, flossing, the use of fluorides, and other aspects of dental care, as well. They also administer anesthetics and write prescriptions for antibiotics and other medications.

Most dentists are general practitioners, handling a wide variety of dental needs. Other dentists practice in one of eight specialty areas. Orthodontists, the largest group of specialists, straighten teeth. The next largest group, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, operate on the mouth and jaws. The remainder specialize in pediatric dentistry (dentistry for children); periodontics (treating the gums and the bone supporting the teeth); prosthodontics (making artificial teeth or dentures); endodontics (root canal therapy); dental public health; and oral pathology (studying diseases of the mouth).

Consult the Health Information Center for more consumer information
related to this specialty

To locate a dentist in your area:  Directory of Dentists

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