One of the directions that innovation seems to be taking us these days is toward industry splitting. As careers get more and more specialized, you may find that a job that was once done by one person has been split into two or three areas of expertise. Take dentistry as an example. Twenty years ago your dentist would handle any task associated with your teeth, whether that meant maintaining their health or improving their looks. Today you might have to go see a separate cosmetic dentist for aesthetic matters.
Here are a few dental office websites where you can see examples of innovations in dentistry:
AppleTree Dental for Kids
Dental Studio, London ON
Smile Solutions, Las Vegas
Don't get us wrong, there are still many dentists in the world who deal with any and all dental issues. Usually the smaller the town the fewer dentists the town can support, so one general dental practice can take care of all the dental needs in town. In bigger cities, however, where there are many, many dentists, some of them can afford to have specialties, splitting off into new industries like children's dentistry, sleep dentistry (dentistry with the patient under anesthesia) and cosmetic dentistry. These are not formally recognized designations marked by separate career training paths, rather they are dentist-chosen specialties.
So if you go to a cosmetic dentist, what kinds of procedures can you expect him or her to perform? Generally speaking, a cosmetic dentist would handle any aesthetic procedures such as applying crowns, caps or veneers, teeth whitening, gum depigmentation, and orthodontic work that involved straightening teeth and correcting over or underbites. Cosmetic dentists may also craft replacement teeth and bridges for people whose teeth have been damages beyond their ability to repair.
Even if you were under the care of a cosmetic dentist to improve your appearance, you will still want to visit your regular dentist every six months to a year. Your regular dentist's job is to check your teeth, gums, and mouth for serious health issues such as oral cancer and gingivitis. Regular dentists also make sure your tartar buildup doesn't get too serious and that your enamel is holding up well. If you have cavities your regular dentist can fill them for you.
For those who have more serious issues than regular dentists can handle, there is a specialty subset of dental professionals (this one recognized by dental associations) that you might have to see. It is the dental surgeon. Dental surgeons perform more in-depth procedures that involve cutting into teeth, gums, and bone, such as root canals, wisdom tooth removal, and creating dental implants that will be anchored into the bone of the patient's jaw. Dental surgeons also handle emergency dental surgery on patients who have damaged their teeth and jaws in accidents.