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Las Vegas Dentist – Types of Dentists Explained

Las Vegas Dentist: Types of dentists and dental statistics

Welcome to vegasdentaldirectory.com! We are a FREE resource for the people of Las Vegas to find a great dentist. We know it’s sometimes a daunting and frustrating task looking for a Las Vegas dentist, so were trying to make it a little easier by gathering them all in one place so you can find the best match for you and your family. Below is a guide to the types of Las Vegas dentists, as well as some interesting information and statistics about dental health.

REPORT: The burden of oral disease in Nevada

 General Las Vegas Dentist

general las vegas dentistDentists are probably the health care professional that you see most often. There’s a good reason for that—it’s because general dentistry is focused the prevention of disease. Well over 60% of dental visits are either diagnostic or preventive. By placing an emphasis on oral health and hygiene, general dentists help people avoid the progression of oral diseases. If left untreated, these eventually result in pain, or even lost time at work or school—not to mention billions of dollars each year.

General dentists provide dental care to people of all ages. At a routine visit to your family Las Vegas dentist, you will probably have a thorough examination of your mouth (including teeth, gums, and other structures), a professional cleaning, and a discussion about your dental (and overall) health. If your dentist finds evidence of tooth decay, you will probably need a filling in the affected tooth. Along with these things, a dentist provides many more services.

What Do General Dentists Do?

Of the estimated 800 Las Vegas dentist practicing here in southern Nevada, around 80 percent are general dentists. Unlike specialists, who are primarily focused on a particular aspect of dental practice, general dentists provide many services that are vital to your overall dental health, including:

Preventive services
Regular checkups help you maintain good oral health by halting disease before it takes hold in your mouth. Regular exams (including diagnostic images such as x-rays) and professional teeth cleanings are an important part of prevention. Your general Las Vegas dentist may give you instructions to improve your oral hygiene at home, and may also recommend preventive treatments such as sealants if needed. You may be fitted with a custom-made mouth guard at your dentist’s office.

Restorative Services
When your dentist does find a problem, he or she will ensure you get timely and appropriate treatment. The most common dental restoration involves removing tooth decay and placing a filling in the affected tooth. Other restorative services a general dentist provide is treatment in the case of dental traumas, such as a broken, loosened or knocked-out tooth. General dentists can diagnose and treat the other causes of tooth pain or periodontal (gum) disease. Most dentists offer treatments for missing teeth like crowns or bridgework, along with getting you fitted with dentures. Some provide more advanced treatments, such as root canal therapy, orthodontics, and dental implants, as well.

Cosmetic Procedures
Many general dentists can help you get the great smile you’ve always wanted with a range of cosmetic procedures. Teeth whitening, cosmetic bonding, and even porcelain veneers are services some dentists offer. If a brighter smile is what you’re looking for, ask your general dentist about a smile makeover.

What Qualifications Do General Dentists Have?

All general dentists must complete four years in an accredited dental school after completing their undergraduate education. In addition, they must fulfill the requirements of state licensing boards, which include testing and continuing education. Whether your dentist has a DDS, or DMD after their name, be assured that their education and training is identical. This is just the choice of the school the school issuing the degree. In addition to their standard training, some general dentists receive special training in particular areas of expertise, such as implant placement, and cosmetic procedures.

When Should I See a Las Vegas Dentist?

The general rule is every six months for preventative services. Otherwise, whenever you feel you have a concern about your oral health. Anytime you have a toothache, or any type of mouth or jaw pain, you shouldn’t hesitate to make an appointment with your dentist. You may also want to learn about cosmetic procedures, and your dentist is a good place to start.

For routine dental appointments, your schedule may vary depending on your individual circumstances. The dentist may want to see you more often if your situation is special. Whatever is recommended, keeping up with the recommended schedule of preventive treatment and practicing effective oral hygiene at home are the two best ways to prevent dental disease.

las vegas orthodontistOrthodontists

The primary role of an orthodontist is assessing and correcting teeth and jaws that are out of position, don’t close properly, or just correcting your smile for aesthetic reasons. There are about 100 orthodontists currently practicing in the Nevada. Formally known as Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, it is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA).

To become an orthodontist, a candidate must graduate from an accredited dental school, and complete at least two years of additional training in the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of bite problems, as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures (“oro” = mouth, “facial” = face).

Orthodontists are experts at treating bite problems, or malocclusions (imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed.). These can include misaligned teeth, or crowded teeth (too close together, due to insufficient space in the jaw). Malocclusions can also result when the upper and lower jaws don’t line up correctly as they should, whether from premature loss of the baby teeth, developmental abnormalities, or other causes.

To alleviate these problems and get a better and more functional bite, orthodontists use a variety of appliances including braces, clear aligners, expanders, and retainers. All of these things may sound complicated, but they have been carefully designed to exert gentle, steady pressure on the teeth—just enough to move them into better positions in the jaw, with little or no discomfort. Due to their expertise in jaw growth and development, orthodontists may also employ devices such as palatal expanders and headgear as part of an overall treatment plan. These devices help guide a child’s growing jaw to prevent more complex orthodontic problems in the future.

Orthodontists treatments can last from 12 to 30 months, depending on the condition. Some treatments are done in phases, sometimes years apart. Orthodontist appointments are sometimes more frequent because the orthodontist may have to make adjustments to appliances, or monitor progress more closely.

When Is It Time to See an Orthodontist?

Generally, whenever you have a concern where there are crowded or crooked teeth, bite problems, or other issues in relation to the alignment of the teeth and jaws. You don’t generally need a referral to make an appointment for an orthodontic consultation, and most cases, the initial visit is free of charge. In some instances, however, your general Las Vegas dentist may recommend that you see an orthodontist for a particular problem.

If you’re a parent, it is recommended by the American Academy of Orthodontists (AAO) that children have an orthodontic examination by age 7. By that age, it’s usually possible to tell if braces or corrective appliances will be needed. Because the teeth and jaws are developing rapidly at this time, it’s quicker and easier to treat certain conditions early, rather than waiting until the problem worsens. Orthodontists can also offer effective treatment for children with persistent thumb sucking, mouth breathing and tongue thrusting habits.

Many adults also seek orthodontic care as well. It is estimated that 20% of all orthodontic patients are adults. It’s never too late to correct healthy teeth, and there are alternatives to braces that are much less noticeable such as colorless brackets, clear aligners, and lingual braces.

Why See an Orthodontist?

There are many reasons to seek orthodontic treatment. One reason is if you feel your teeth are crooked, misaligned or otherwise less than perfect, making you hesitant to smile or self-conscious in social situations. Another reason is if you’re having trouble chewing or speaking or your jaws don’t seem to close properly. Orthodontists also restore your teeth to proper appearance and function after trauma, and they help your dentist give you that perfect smile with porcelain veneers.

The vast majority of people are pleased with the results of orthodontic treatment. As part of a smile makeover, orthodontics seem to work magic. Improved aesthetics isn’t the only benefit of treatment. Teeth with proper spacing and alignment are much easier to clean, and a properly aligned bite can save you from problems in the future.  While orthodontics can be a little expensive, it’s probably a worthwhile expense for your overall dental health and self-confidence.

las vegas dentist skullOral & Maxillofacial Dental Specialists

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are unique among dental specialists. After completing four years of dental school, they spend another four years in a hospital based residency program for surgery. They are trained alongside other medical residents in the techniques of emergency medicine, general surgery and anesthesiology. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are unique in that they are the only health care specialists (along with anesthesiologists) who can administer all levels of sedation, up to general anesthesia.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons focus on treating problems of the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth, and jaws. While they do sometimes work in a hospital setting, their practices are more often located in a more relaxed office setting. You may be referred by your general dentist for a complex tooth extraction. Or, your orthodontist may send you for an examination if he or she suspects a problem with the alignment of your jaws that’s beyond their scope of treatment.

Complex treatments that require more invasive procedures or deeper levels of sedation are usually performed by oral surgeons. Let’s look at a few of the procedures performed below.

Procedures Performed by Oral Surgeonslas vegas oral surgeon

Tooth extractions are probably the most common procedure that oral surgeons perform. Patients are often referred to these specialists for impacted wisdom teeth—that is, forming in a position where they can’t erupt or grow into the bite properly. Minor surgery is usually required to remove impacted wisdom teeth, and is generally recommended even if the impacted teeth aren’t (yet) producing any symptoms. This procedure is relatively routine, and performed in the office under light sedation.

Corrective Jaw (Orthognathic) Surgery is needed at times when orthodontics is not enough to correct a misaligned bite. In other cases, surgical treatment to repair congenital abnormalities (birth defects) or to treat severe orthodontic conditions, skeletal problems, and other disorders is necessary. In these procedures, performed under general anesthesia, the bones of the face and jaw may be reshaped and repositioned, along with realignment of the jaws and teeth. Oral surgeons frequently work closely with orthodontists in planning and carrying out this type of surgery, which may be necessary when orthodontics alone can’t correct the problem.

Cleft lip /palate surgery is a special type of surgery to correct the changes in facial structure caused by this birth defect.

Reconstructive surgery is often necessary after a traumatic dental injury or facial trauma, which can result from an accident, a workplace injury, or a variety of other causes. This surgery is also performed many times following the removal of a tumor or another operation. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in repairing and reconstructing facial structures, and are highly skilled at working with both hard and soft tissues.

Oral surgeons can also set a solid foundation for cosmetic and restorative dental work, including the placement of dental implants. Depending on the condition of the jaw, bone grafting may be required for proper placement of the implants in the jaw. Oral surgeons can also smooth and reshape the alveolar (jaw) bone as needed, if dentures are chosen, to ensure a comfortable fit in the mouth.

In addition to the procedures mentioned, oral and maxillofacial surgeons may be consultants in cases of obstructive sleep apnea, facial pain and infection, biopsies and removal of lesions, and diagnosis and treatment of some oral cancers.

las vegas endodonticsEndodontists

There’s much more to our teeth than what’s visible on the surface. Deep inside those hard, pearly whites lies a network of tiny, cavern-like passages called canals, which contain sensitive living tissue, including blood vessels and nerves. Treating the soft tissue inside the tooth is the primary role of an endodontist.

While we’re not usually aware of these minute canals, which extend from below the chewing surfaces through the roots of the teeth, we become keenly aware when something goes wrong. Inflammation and pain in the tooth’s pulp can be quite severe. Quite often, getting relief from the pain and controlling the infection in the pulp tissue requires root canal therapy, or another treatment of the tooth’s soft tissue.

Root Canal Specialists

To become an endodontist, a candidate must have graduated from an accredited dental school, and then successfully completed two to three years of postgraduate training in this specialty. Endodontists must also remain current with continuing education requirements, along with regular licensing requirements.

Endodontists aren’t the only dentists who can perform pulp treatments such as root canals, and because their practice is limited to treating the soft tissues of the tooth, they do so more often than other dentists. According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), endodontists perform an average of 25 root canal treatments per week, in contrast to less than two per week for general dentists. This gives them a tremendous amount of clinical experience to draw from.

What Endodontists Do

Root canal therapy is the most common treatment performed by an endodontist. Many times it’s needed when the tooth’s pulp is infected, often as a result of untreated tooth decay or a traumatic dental injury. This procedure involves making a small hole in the tooth, removing the infected or dead pulp tissue, and replacing it with sterile biocompatible filler. The tooth is then sealed to prevent reinfection. It is typically done under local anesthesia, and is performed using very small dental instruments and, sometimes, a microscope.

Despite some myths, root canal treatment rarely causes more than temporary minor discomfort; and it generally relieves the acute pain of pulp inflammation. Root canal therapy has a success rate of about 95 percent, which usually means saving the natural tooth that would otherwise have been lost. It’s well known that the primary goal of modern dentistry is to preserve the natural teeth whenever possible, so the work of endodontists is invaluable.

Besides performing standard root canal treatments, endodontists often have patients referred to them by a Las Vegas dentist, where complicating factors make treatment more difficult. Endodontists also perform surgical procedures such as apicoectomies, where infected tissue is removed from the tip of the tooth’s root. In some cases, endodontists need to re-treat where a root canal has failed, or when a tooth’s pulp has affected by traumatic injury. Their advice is also sought in situations where a difficult decision must be made, such as whether it’s worthwhile to save the tooth, or that it may be best to extract.

When You Should See an Endodontist?

Although a large number of general dentists perform root canals, patients are often referred to an endodontist by their dentist. This is sometimes the case, if a patient is experiencing confusing or non-specific tooth pain, or if a complication might potentially make your treatment more difficult. You may also be referred to an endodontist for a root canal before your dentist places a crown or another type of restoration on one of your teeth.

If you have a toothache or tooth sensitivity, you are probably best off starting with your regular dentist. Your problem could simply be tooth decay, or a loose filling, which can be easily treated by a general dentist. However, if you have a more serious situation like a knocked-out tooth, a fractured tooth, or other dental injury, or are in pain from a pulp inflammation, you don’t need a referral to see an endodontist. They are experts at treating problems deep inside the teeth, and they can often save teeth that would otherwise be lost to injury or decay.


Every smile is different, but every great smile has two things in common: A full set of pearly white teeth, and the proper amount of healthy pink gum tissue to show them off. For the most part, your general Las Vegas dentist is the healthcare provider who takes care of your teeth by checking for signs of a problem, providing treatment when needed, and making sure you get regular teeth cleanings. But periodontists are the dental professionals you should see when your gums need some extra help.

las vegas periodontics

Periodontists focus on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the gums, as well as other structures that support the teeth. They are highly skilled to recognize and treat the early stages of gum inflammation before it gets out of hand. Periodontists perform minor surgery to resolve complicated cases of periodontitis (severe gum disease). They use lasers or gum grafting techniques to restore the appearance of a smile, and even place dental implants in the jaw when a tooth can’t be saved.

Periodontists are appropriately called “the plastic surgeons of dentistry.” Like conventional plastic surgeons, they use various techniques to reshape soft tissue, and even bone in the jaw. Periodontists aren’t only concerned with outward appearances. They understand that maintaining healthy, disease-free gums is a key part of good oral health. And considering that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, you can see how important healthy gums really are.

Periodontists Qualifications

The field of periodontics is one of the nine specialty practice areas recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). In order to become a qualified periodontist, each candidate must have successfully completed four years at an accredited dental school, followed by an additional three years of education and clinical training in an approved post-graduate program for periodontology.

A general Las Vegas dentist provides regular teeth cleanings, and give instruction on effective at home oral hygiene, the two most common measures that can help prevent gum disease. When that’s not enough, periodontists are called upon to treat advanced or complicated cases of gum disease. Their special expertise enables them to diagnose the underlying conditions causing the disease, and offer the most effective treatment, or restorative procedure. They also work closely with general dentists, developing a comprehensive plan to try and resolve a patient’s present gum disease, hopefully keeping it from recurring in the future.

How Periodontists Treat Gum Disease

Periodontists have many tools available to fight gum disease. Treatment generally starts with the most conservative measures, which are non-surgical procedures. These include scaling and root planing, where special instruments are used to clean the root surfaces of the teeth. Lasers are sometimes used with this procedure. Some patients also receive antimicrobial medications. The removal of dental plaque and hardened calculus (tartar) from tooth surfaces that lie under the gums is sometimes enough to resolve the patient’s gum disease. This is effective when followed up with a conscientious maintenance program.

If periodontal disease has progressed to the point where gum tissue no longer fits snugly against the teeth, minor gum surgery may be needed. A small flap may be opened in the gum tissue, allowing infected tissue and bacteria to be removed from an infected area under the gums. Healthier gum tissue can then begin naturally reattaching to bone. This “pocket reduction” procedure is an effective treatment to stop the progression of periodontal disease in many cases.

Gum disease can enable bone to erode in the jaw and damage the tissues that surround and support your teeth. Left untreated, it may eventually lead to tooth loss. To help reverse the damage, a periodontist may recommend various regenerative procedures. Bone grafts, gum grafts and tissue-stimulating growth factors can be used to repair damage to these structures that support the tooth, and help you preserve your natural teeth.

Other Periodontal Procedures

When teeth can’t be saved, many periodontists can provide a patient with the premier tooth replacement system: the dental implant. Placed into the jawbone with minor surgery, these prosthetic teeth are natural looking and fully functional tooth replacements that can last for the rest of your life.

Periodontists also offer an array of different treatments that can improve the appearance of your smile and resolve some dental problems. For instance, if you have gum recession, gum graft surgery can be used to cover the exposed roots of teeth with healthy gum tissue. This may be your own tissue, or processed material from a donor. This can give you a better looking smile, and may also reduce tooth sensitivity and protect against tooth decay in this area.

Crown lengthening surgery can be used as part of a tooth restoration procedure, or to change the appearance of a “gummy” smile, where there seems to be too much gum and too little tooth. In this procedure, excess gum tissue is reshaped to allow more of the natural teeth to show.

When to See a Periodontist

Research has shown that effective brushing and flossing, along with regular professional teeth cleaning, helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease. But sometimes, even people who are very active in their oral hygiene can’t keep gum disease from starting. When that occurs, it’s time to see a periodontist. Your general Las Vegas dentist might recommend a visit to the gum specialist if he or she notices a problem. In addition, you can talk to a periodontist about improving the look of your smile with some periodontal plastic surgery.

While periodontal therapy may take many forms, it has the same goals: to restore diseased or damaged tissues to good health; to improve the appearance and function of every part of your smile; and to allow you to keep your natural teeth for as long as possible.

In Conclusion

No matter what type of Las Vegas dentist your looking for (Including Cosmetic Dentists, which deserves their own article), you can most likely find them here on vegasdentaldirectory.com. Of course if you have any questions about our site, you’re welcome to contact us anytime.