Dentists seem to be able to provide a lot of different services. However, people tend to think that their dentists can do just about anything and everything orally-related. That, of course, is not always true. The following questions and answers will help you understand what dentists can and cannot do, and why.
Can Dentists Do Braces?
Typically, the answer to this question is "no." However, there are exceptions to the rule. The exceptions include cosmetic dentists, who are licensed to provide invisible braces for cosmetic purposes, and dentists who have achieved an orthodontist's license. When your dentist is both a dentist and an orthodontist, or dentist and cosmetic dentist, then yes, your dentist can do braces.
Can Dentists Diagnose Oral Cancers?
Dentists are trained to spot very unusual situations in your mouth, some of which may be cancer. A dentist cannot definitively say that you have some type of oral cancer because he/she does not have the diagnostic tools to confirm or deny the existence of oral cancer. However, if your dentist feels that sores or strange lumps in your mouth could be cancer, he/she will urge you to see an oncologist who can test the sores or lumps for cancer cells.
The dentist also will not tell you that he/she thinks you should see the doctor to which you are referred because he/she thinks you have cancer. Your dentist wants to be wrong about what he/she thinks he/she sees, and that is why you will only get the referral to have the sores or lumps checked out. If the dentist is right, treatment going forward will change. If the dentist is wrong, then the sores or lumps are something else that can be easily treated.
Can Dentists Tell If Someone Is Doing Harm to His/Her Body?
People often wonder if a dentist can tell when a person is doing something self-abusive or drug-related. It is possible, although most dentists will not assume that. For example, a person who suffers from bulimia will force him/herself to throw up after every binge-eating session. The stomach acids that follow up after the partially digested food tend to coat the back teeth, and eventually erode those teeth if the person does not seek treatment for the disorder. A dentist will try to save these eroding teeth, knowing that bulimia may be a cause, but ultimately the disorder has to be addressed by the patient.
Additionally, there are people that shoot up heroin and crack in their gums and under their tongues. This becomes obvious by the scarring of the needle pricks, and by the loss of teeth where the needles are injected. While a dentist can tell that something is going on, he/she cannot do anything about it besides treat the patient's dental conditions.