Valparaiso (219) 531-8914
951 Southpoint Dr.
Valparaiso, IN 46385
Chesterton (219) 926-5445
1830 South 11th Street
Chesterton, IN 46304

Dental Specialists Play Vital Role in Patient Care

Question: “Dr. Arnold, my dentist seems to refer me to specialists for everything. Why does he always do this when I just want him to do all of my dental work?”

Answer: In dental school, students gain some experience in most dental specialties. Most schools have clinical requirements in the areas of oral surgery, periodontics, endodontics, prosthodontics, orthodontics, and pedodontics. This gives dental school graduates exposure to the different types of procedures patients often need.

This experience sometimes leads graduates to an interest in continuing their education in a specialty program. These post-graduate programs usually require an additional two to four years of advanced training after dental school. When dentists finish these rigorous post-graduate degrees, they are licensed specialists in their particular area of concentration.

Dental specialists provide wonderful support for general dentists and their patients. Their advanced education beyond dental school makes them exceptional resources for care when the complexity of a particular procedure is beyond the “comfort zone” of a general dentist.

General dentists can perform many of these procedures, but will often elect to refer a patient to a specialist if they feel that it is in the patient’s best interest. My personal philosophy has always been to refer a patient to a specialist if I feel that they would do a better job for the patient. If I treat every patient as I would a member of my own family, everyone is assured the best care possible.

Some dentists receive training beyond dental school that gives them the experience and knowledge necessary to do fantastic work outside the purview of general dentistry. This additional training does not make them specialists, but it better prepares them to perform complex procedures.

The important thing to remember is that your dentist should be concerned with what is in your best interest. If that means referring you to a specialist for a given procedure, then he is probably doing the right thing for you.

Dr. Jim Arnold is a practicing dentist in Chesterton and Valparaiso. He is also a clinical mentor with the Hornbrook Group and serves on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics as the Fellowship Chairman. You may send questions to his office at: 1830 South 11th Street, Chesterton, IN 46304 or email them to: More information on this or many other dental topics can be found at