Dentists prevent and treat problems with teeth and gums such as cavities, tooth aches, tooth decay, and gum disease.
They use many treatment options such as crowns, bridges, implants, root canals, and dentures.
They employ dental hygienists to perform routine teeth cleaning. They use sharp tools called scalers to scrape plaque and tartar off your teeth.
Dentists take x-rays of your mouth to look for problems with your teeth, gums, and bones.
Dentists also offer cosmetic services such as teeth whitening and porcelain veneers.
There are over 160,000 members of the American Dental Association. In most areas, there's an average of 60 dentists per 100,000 people. This means you have many options when choosing a dentist. You can check online reviews and get recommendations from friends and family.
Dentists complete 4 years of dental school. Specialists such as orthodontists and maxillofacial surgeon require additional years of school and training.
Maxillofacial surgeons extract teeth and insert implants. Many are also MDs.
Orthodontists specialize in braces and straightening teeth. They do 2-3 years more training after dental school.
Periodontists specialize in gum disease. The most common gum problems are inflammation and gum recession. Pediatric dentists treat children.
Dental insurance is usually separate from health insurance plans.
Some health insurance companies like Anthem offer optional dental coverage, but you will most often find stand alone dental insurance companies like Delta Dental.
Plans can be purchased through the individual market or an employer.
Under the Affordable Care Act, children's dental coverage is an essential health benefit, so health insurance plans will offer this coverage. It is not required for adults.
Medicaid also covers children's dental care, but coverage for adults depends on your state's policies.
Medicare does not cover most dental procedures. Senior citizens have to buy their own coverage.