Dentist in the UK that are registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) are allowed to provide most aspects of dental care, as long as they feel competent to do so. Most dentists are able to provide a predictable high level of dental care however, from time to time your dentist may suggest referring you to a dental specialist to provide treatment for more complex and challenging problems to try and achieve the best possible clinical outcome. Some patients may also self refer themselves either for treatment or a second opinion.
A specialist is someone who has undertaken further formal training that is recongnised by the GDC in a sub-specialty of dentistry. Currently the GDC holds thirteen different specialist lists and dentists can be entered onto the lists, provided they fulfill the GDC requirements to do so. Dentists and patients can search the list to find specialists in any sub specialty within their local area.
Dr. Patel has undertaken several years of formal training as well as professional examinations allowing him to gain entry onto four of the thirteen GDC recongnised specialist lists. His areas of specialsiation include:
This involves the management of painful, traumatised or infected teeth that have resulted from damage to the dental pulp (Nerve and blood supply of the tooth). Often disease processes such as caries/tooth decay extending deep into the tooth, failed crown and bridgework or traumatic dental injuries can cause these problems.
The management often involves root canal treatment (either first time or redo of an existing root filling) or surgical endodontic treatment in order to try and save the tooth.
This specialty focuses on the management of problems relating to the periodontal tissues. These are tissues surrounding the tooth and include the gums, bone and a ligament connecting the tooth to the bone. The most common periodontal problem is chronic periodontal disease (often referred to as gum disease) but there are a whole range of other inflammatory or infection related problems that may be involved.
Clinical signs of periodontal problems may include: swollen and bleeding gums, increased gum recession or tooth show and mobility of the teeth. Interestingly periodontal conditions are not often painful and therefore can go unnoticed until a late stage, especially if you are an irregular dental attender.
Specialists in periodontics are also involved in the surgical placement of dental implants and carrying out soft and hard tissue augmentation surgery around teeth and dental implants.
This area of dentistry focuses on the rehabilitation of damaged teeth or the replacement of missing teeth and surrounding hard and soft tissue. Damage to teeth may occur through tooth surface loss (toothwear), dental trauma or due to disease processes such as dental caries/tooth decay.
Treatment usually involves rehabilitation of damaged teeth through crowns, veneers or more modern minimally invasive techniques such as the use of tooth coloured filling material. Replacement of missing teeth involves the design, manufacture and fitting of dentures, tooth supported bridges or the use of dental implant supported restoration (crowns, bridges and removable dentures).
Specialists in Restorative Dentistry are uniquely positioned, as they are able to bring together expertise in Endodontics, Periodontics and Prosthodontics to manage complex clinical cases in restoring both function and aesthetics.
Most specialists in Restorative Dentistry are usually part of multidisciplinary teams involving other dental specialists such as orthodontists and oral and maxillofacial surgeons, providing joined up care to rehabilitate patients. They are often involved in the management of patients with complex dental trauma, patients born with missing teeth (hypodontia) and rehabilitation of patients with congenital defects such as cleft, lip and palate and acquired conditions such as oral cancer.
Interestingly the GDC does not hold a specialist list for dental implants and there is no formal training requirement for this area of dentistry. Any registered dentist or specialist can therefore carry out dental implant treatment however, the clinical experience clinicians are able to offer will vary between individuals. Specialty training programmes in periodontics, prosthodontics, restorative dentistry and some of the surgical specialties are likely to involve the placement and/or restoration of dental implants as part of their curriculum. Dr. Patel not only has a vast amount of experience in dental implant treatment, he is also actively involved in teaching dental implant procedures to postgraduate students on various training programmes.