Message of the President of the
Order of Dentists of Quebec
Dr. Barry Dolman
GENERAL AND SPECIALIST DENTISTS: WORKING HAND IN HAND
Dr. Barry Dolman, President of the Quebec Order of Dentists, explains that specialists and generalists are partners in managing our dental health. Still, some confusion persists among the public about different dentists’ roles and the distinction between generalists and dental specialists.
“Generalists,” he said, “are also known as ‘dental surgeons’ and can perform any dental procedure. However, generalists have an ethical responsibility to tell their patients that some types of treatment may be performed by specialists. In other words, a dental surgeon is not a specialist, but an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is.”
The Order, with 5,000 dentists, including 520 specialists, recognizes 10 dental specialties. A generalist’s university training takes 4 to 8 years, while that of a specialist takes 2 to 7 extra years. “Generalists can expand their areas of practices through experience and specific training. Generalists, for example, may opt to perform a root canal themselves or refer the patient to an endodontist. The generalist should determine if the situation requires a specialist and advise patients accordingly.”
The President of the Order explained that “the endodontist is trained in innovative techniques, such as the use of a microscope for performing root canals, which can be done in a minimum of time, just as periodontists and maxillofacial surgeons are specialists with the most comprehensive background in implant surgery and related complications.”
Dr. Dolman added that implantology is not a recognized specialty. “Trained generalists do such work, but in more complicated cases—and this is a matter of attitude and ethics—the patient must be given the choice to call on specialists with more experience in surgical procedures.” Maxillofacial surgeons commonly remove tumors, reposition jaws and work in hospital operating rooms. Periodontists are well equipped to perform bone grafts and gingival reconstruction. Both are, accordingly, better placed to handle complex cases than are generalists in the new field of implantology.”
Dr. Dolman also mentioned that the “only specialist recognized for fixed prostheses, particularly on implants, is the prosthodontist, who has accumulated a total 7 or 8 years of study.” He added that a prosthesis is only one factor in a treatment plan formulated by the dentist and based on a diagnosis that only a dentist is qualified to make.
Dr. Dolman said: “Well-informed patients are in a position to make the right choice. They can have the work done by a general dentist or see a specialist. Patients can also consult a specialist directly, particularly for a second opinion.”
Dr. Barry Dolman, President
Order of Dentists of Quebec
Letter published in the newspaper La Presse, on April 20 2012