Oral Health & Dental Specialists

What is a General Dentist (BDS or BDent)?

A General Dentist must complete a basic three year general degree course such as a Bachelor of Arts or Science at University. They must achieve a Distinction average throughout the basic degree course to then be able to sit for a generalised test called GAMSAT. Once a candidate has achieved the desired result from the GAMSAT testing then they must endure an interview by a panel of dentists, faculty members and representatives of the general public. If the candidate satisfies all the criteria, they will be admitted to the four (4) year Bachelor of Dentistry (BDent) at University. There is currently one (1) university in every state that has a Dental Degree, except Queensland which now has two (2) universities which offer a dental Degree. Upon graduation, a general Dentist will possess one of the following degrees:

  • BDS = Bachelor of Dental Surgery (from Sydney University)
  • BDSc = Bachelor of Dental Science (from other Australian Universities)
  • BDent = Bachelor of Dentistry (graduated after 2002)

There is no difference between the degrees - dentists have received the same education and completed the same curriculum requirements set by the Australian Dental Boards in each state. The difference is merely semantics - some universities award a BDS degree or BDent (after 2002), while others award a BDSc degree. State licensing boards accept each degree as equivalent, and all degrees allow licensed individuals to practice the same scope of general dentistry.

Specialized areas of dentistry:

Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist. Dental/oral health specialists include the following:

Paediatric Dentist

A paediatric dentist is a specialist in the field of dentistry - dealing particularly with the oral healthcare of children, from infancy through the teenage years. In guiding children and teens through their dental growth and development, paediatric dentists often work closely with pediatricians, family physicians, and other dental specialists in providing comprehensive medical and dental care.

Endodontist

Also called pulp specialists, endodontists have undergone specialized training in performing root canal therapy. This particular branch of dentistry is concerned with the morphology, physiology, and pathology of the human dental pulp (the soft tissue area between the tooth's outer enamel and the dentin) and periradicular tissues - including the prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are actually orthopaedic facial surgeons responsible for treating a wide variety of dental problems - including the removal of impacted teeth and reconstructive facial surgery. This dental specialty also includes the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, injuries, and defects involving both functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.

Orthodontist

Orthodontists are specially trained dentists who specialize in the development, prevention, and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite, and jaws. Orthodontists also have specialized training in facial abnormalities and disorders of the jaw. A patient often consults an orthodontist after receiving a referral from his/her general dentist.

Periodontist

Periodontists are responsible for the care and prevention of gum-related diseases, guided bone regeneration, and dental implants. It is the specialty of dentistry that includes the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes, and the maintenance of the health, function, and esthetics of these structures and tissues.

Prosthodontist

Prosthodontists are dental specialists who have undergone additional training and certification in the restoration and replacement of broken teeth with crowns, bridges, or removable prosthetics (dentures). It is the branch of dentistry that also specializes in understanding the dynamics of the smile, preserving a healthy mouth, and creating tooth replacements. Prosthodontists often work closely with other members of the oral healthcare team in restoring natural teeth, replacing missing teeth, and/or developing artificial substitutes for damaged oral and maxillofacial tissues. In addition, prosthodontists also have specialized training in the following:

  • post oral cancer reconstruction
  • jaw joint problems (i.e., temporomandibular joint disorder)
  • traumatic injuries of the mouth
  • snoring and sleeping disorders