Making Sense of Dental Specialists


Part of the strength of a good dental practice is its referral network. In my dental practice, when I refer a patient to a specialist, I want to make sure that the patient knows what to expect. Each dental specialist contributes a specific function to a patient’s treatment plan. I want my patients to be familiar with the specialists that make up their treatment team.

When you visit your family dentist for an exam, you are seeing your “primary care” dentist. He or she will examine your overall health, diagnose any ongoing problems and determine what treatments you need. Maybe the only treatment needed is a cleaning. Sometimes you will require further work – fillings, dentures, crowns, and other cosmetic procedures – that your dentist can perform. But there are times when your problem requires a referral to a specialist.

Two of the specialists that often become familiar to adults are endodontists and periodontists. Here’s what they do:

  • Endodontists deal with the health of your dental pulp and the nerves in your tooth. This specialist is most well known to patients for root canals, but this isn’t the only procedure they perform! If you have a tooth that has been knocked out of its socket, you will appreciate the skills of an endodontist. They also conduct exploratory surgery to diagnose undetected causes of nerve pain and perform a variety of other treatments.
  • Periodontists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of serious gum disease (periodontal disease) and oral inflammation. Some specific treatments offered by periodontists are (1) scaling and root planing (cleaning the infected surface of the root) and (2) root surface debridement (in which damaged tissue is removed). They can also treat patients with severe gum problems using a range of surgical procedures. Also, periodontists are specially trained in the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants.

Your primary dentist works with these and other specialists to treat severe dental problems AND, whenever possible, to prevent problems from developing. You can look at these professionals as members of your personal dental treatment team!

Remember, beautiful teeth are healthy teeth!
Dr. Nishan Halim

~Winner of the 2015 Hilly Award for Best Healthcare Provider~

Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry, which is at the heart of this Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. When treatment plans include specialty work, he coordinates every step with the practitioners you choose from his referral network. Contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment.

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