Ever wonder what all those “ists” mean at the end of a medical title?? Let’s unpack the mystery of who you should see based on the discomfort you are experiencing. For starters, the suffix “ist” simply refers to a person who performs and specializes in a certain area. Now, on to the fancy part.


Their expertise allows them to deal with dental pulp in tissues. Still confused? Best put, they are the pros when it comes to root canals and surgeries because they focus on mouth tissues and nerves.


They’re famous for teeth straightening procedures. You may see an orthodontist if a bite is ineffective or if braces, spacers, expanders or retainers are needed to help align the teeth. Periodontist—Their primary focus is on the periodontium, or the support structures of your teeth. You
might see them if you are having issues or pain in your jaw.


Their primary role is to diagnose and restore damaged or missing teeth. You might see them if you have permanent teeth knocked out, a decayed tooth or extensive damage to the mouth.

Oral Pathologists—

Their extended schooling allows them to diagnose and help manage lumps, swelling, ulcers and other abnormal findings in the neck and head area. You might see them if you have a concerning bump or pain that lands somewhere between your collarbone and your head.

Of course, it’s always important to see your general dentist first and allow them to direct you toward the best treatment path with a referral to a specialist, as needed. Fortunately, a general dentist can help eliminate most mouth concerns “in house”, but it’s always good to know that other options are available. Afterall, the ultimate goal is to help you achieve your oral health aspirations!