Recognized Dental Specialties | National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards

Recognized dental specialties

Explore the recognition process and learn more about the dental specialties currently recognized by the National Commission.

Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties

Based on the Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties, dental specialties are recognized to protect the public, nurture the art and science of dentistry and improve quality of care. Specialties are recognized in those areas where advanced knowledge, skills and training are greater than those taught in a pre-doctoral dental education program and are separate and unique from the other specialties to maintain or restore oral health.

Not all areas in dentistry will satisfy the Requirements for Recognition and be granted specialty recognition. However, the public and profession benefit substantially when non-specialty groups develop areas of interest through education, practice and research. The contributions of such groups are acknowledged by the dental profession and their endeavors are encouraged.

Following the granting of recognition by the National Commission, the recognized specialty sponsoring organization must establish a national board for certifying diplomats in accordance with the Requirements for Recognition of National Certifying Boards for Dental Specialists.

View the Requirements for Recognition (PDF)

More about the recognized certifying boards

Our most recent Periodic Review of Dental Specialty Education and Practice.
Find resources related to the dental specialties and their certifying boards.

Guidance and Criteria

Definitions of the recognized dental specialties

A dental specialty is an area of dentistry that has been formally recognized by the National Commission based on compliance with the Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties. Currently there are 12 dental specialties recognized by the National Commission.

Specialty definitions adopted by the National Commission are as follows:

Dental Anesthesiology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of anesthesiology encompassing the art and science of managing pain, anxiety, and overall patient health during dental, oral, maxillofacial and adjunctive surgical or diagnostic procedures throughout the entire perioperative period. The specialty is dedicated to promoting patient safety as well as access to care for all dental patients, including the very young and patients with special health care needs. (Adopted March 2019)

Dental Public Health is the science and art of preventing and controlling dental diseases and promoting dental health through organized community efforts. It is that form of dental practice which serves the community as a patient rather than the individual. It is concerned with the dental health education of the public, with applied dental research, and with the administration of group dental care programs as well as the prevention and control of dental diseases on a community basis. (Adopted May 2018)

Endodontics is the dental specialty which is concerned with the morphology, biology, physiology, pathology and regeneration of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues. Its study and practice encompass the basic and clinical sciences including biology of the normal pulp, the etiology, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions. (Adopted April 2021)

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of pathology that deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. It is a science that investigates the causes, processes, and effects of these diseases. The practice of oral pathology includes research and diagnosis of diseases using clinical, radiographic, microscopic, biochemical, or other examinations. (Adopted May 2018)

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of radiology concerned with the production and interpretation of images and data produced by all modalities of radiant energy that are used for the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region. (Adopted May 2018)

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is the specialty of dentistry which includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. (Adopted May 2018)

Oral Medicine is the specialty of dentistry responsible for the oral health care of medically complex patients and for the diagnosis and management of medically-related diseases, disorders and conditions affecting the oral and maxillofacial region. (Adopted September 2020)

Orofacial Pain is the specialty of dentistry that encompasses the diagnosis, management and treatment of pain disorders of the jaw, mouth, face, head and neck. The specialty of Orofacial pain is dedicated to the evidenced-based understanding of the underlying pathophysiology, etiology, prevention, and treatment of these disorders and improving access to interdisciplinary patient care. (Adopted September 2020)

Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is the dental specialty that includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion, as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures. (Adopted May 2018)

Pediatric Dentistry is an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs. (Adopted May 2018)

Periodontics is the specialty of dentistry that encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues. (Adopted May 2018)

Prosthodontics is the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes. (Adopted May 2018)

Dental specialty sponsoring organizations recognized by the National Commission

American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology
P.O. Box 539
Winfield, IL 60190
630.451.9526 | info@aaomp.orgaaomp.org
Executive Director: Ms. Callie Elmore
Recognition Status: Recognized

American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology
P.O. Box 539
Winfield, IL 60190
630.451.9526 | ed@aaomr.org | aaomr.org
Executive Director: Ms. Callie Elmore
Recognition Status: Recognized

American Academy of Oral Medicine
2150 N. 107th Street, Suite 205
Seattle, WA 98296
206.209.5279 | info@aaom.com | aaom.com
Executive Director: Ms. Felicia Kenan
Recognition Status: Recognized 

American Academy of Orofacial Pain
174 S. New York Avenue
PO Box 478
Oceanville, NJ 08231
609.504.1311 | aaopexec@aaop.org | aaop.org
Executive Director: Mr. Kenneth Cleveland
Recognition Status: Recognized

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60611-2663
312.337.2169 |  jrutkauskas@aapd.org | aapd.org
Chief Executive Officer: Dr. John S. Rutkauskas
Recognition Status: Recognized

American Academy of Periodontology
737 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 800
Chicago, IL 60611-2615
312.573.3247 | erin@perio.org | perio.org
Executive Director: Mrs. Erin O’Donnell Dotzler
Recognition Status; Recognized

American Association of Endodontists
180 N. Stetson Avenue, Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60601
312.266.7255 | info@aae.org | aae.org
Executive Director: Mr. Kennth J. Widelka
Recognition Status: Recognized

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
9700 West Bryn Mawr Avenue
Rosemont, IL 60018-5701
847.678.6200 | KarinW@aaoms.org | aaoms.org
Executive Director: Ms. Karin Wittich
Recognition Status: Recognized

American Association of Orthodontists
401 North Lindbergh Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63141-7816
314.993.1700 | lthomasgordon@aaortho.org | mylifemysmile.org
Executive Director: Mrs. Lynne Thomas Gordon
Recognition Status: Recognized

American Association of Public Health Dentistry
PO Box 7317
Springfield, IL 62791
217.529.6941 | fkim@aaphd.org | aaphd.org
Executive Director: Dr. Frances Kim
Recognition Status: Recognized

American College of Prosthodontists
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60611-2637
312.573.1260 | areshan@prosthodontics.org | prosthodontics.org
Interim Co Executive Director: Ms. Carrie Villa
Interim Co Executive Director: Mr. Adam Reshan
Recognition Status: Recognized

American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists
956 S. Bartlett Road, Suite 119
Bartlett, IL 60103
630.242.8940 | ebaker@asdahq.org | asda.org
Executive Director: Mrs. Erin Baker
Recognition Status: Recognized

Application process for recognition

The application for recognition of a dental specialty and/or dental specialty certifying board is based on compliance with the ADA Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties and National Certifying Boards for Dental Specialists.

Recognition by the National Commission is a voluntary process. A sponsoring organization and/or certifying board that is applying for recognition may withdraw its Application for Recognition at any time prior to the National Commission taking action to either grant or deny recognition. Not all dental specialties will meet the Requirements for Recognition.

Requirements for dental specialties (PDF)

Overview of the application process (PDF)

email nationalcommission@ada.org to request an application and fee schedule.

Guidelines for submitting public comments

The National Commission expects that all organizations and individuals bringing business in front of the National Commission will act with integrity and decorum and demonstrate honesty and integrity at all times. During the public comment period of the recognition process, interested parties:

  • Must provide factual comments based on compliance with the Requirements for Recognition
  • Must refrain from making disparaging and/or unprofessional comments about other organizations and/or individuals
  • Must refrain from making comments that are false, unprofessional/disparaging about the National Commission, the American Dental Association, any of the recognized dental specialty sponsoring organizations/certifying boards and the applicant organization

If the National Commission believes that an individual and/or organization has submitted false, unprofessional and/or disparaging comments, the National Commission will consider the submission a violation of its Policy on Integrity and may disregard the entire submission. The National Commission also reserves the right to report egregious violations of the ADA’s Professional Conduct Policy to the ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs if the individual is an ADA member in good standing.

Guidelines for submitting public comments

After the respective Review Committee has made the determination that an application contains all of the required documentation, the National Commission will invite public comment on the applicant’s compliance with the Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties and National Certifying Boards for Dental Specialists for a 60-day period. All comments must be objective and pertain only to the applicant’s compliance to the Requirements for Recognition. The National Commission will disregard comments that are not related to the Requirements for Recognition. Comments that are not objective and/or include Protected Health Information (PHI) or Personally Identifiable Information (PII), violate the American Dental Association’s Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct or contain unprofessional remarks will be disregarded. If the National Commission receives form letters with duplicate content signed by different individuals, the letters will be counted as one letter signed by multiple submitters. Please see National Commission Policy on Third Party Comments. To better assist the communities of interest with interpreting the Requirements for Recognition and providing comments on applications for recognition, the National Commission has developed the following guidelines to assist individuals and/or organizations with public comments.

Guidelines for submitting comments on applications for specialty recognition (PDF)
Appeal Board and appeal process
Adverse actions, or those that may be appealed, are defined as actions related to denial or withdrawal of recognition. Such decisions become final 14 days after the date on the notification letter or when any appeal has been resolved. The National Commission has procedures in place to provide notice of the reasons for taking an adverse recognition action.

The Appeal Board is an autonomous body, separate from the National Commission Board of Commissioners. The primary function of the Appeal Board is to determine whether the National Commission Board of Commissioners arrived at a decision regarding the denial or revocation of specialty recognition by properly applying the National Commission’s published policies and procedures and criteria to the facts presented to the Board of Commissioners.  

The Appeal Board is limited in its inquiry to review substantive procedural due process issues raised by the appellants and factual determinations up to the time of the Board of Commissioners decision regarding an application for recognition and/or the withdrawal of recognition of an organization recognized by the National Commission.

It is not proper for the Appeal Board to either receive or consider facts not previously presented to the  Board of Commissioners since it does not sit as the initial reviewing body. Similarly, it is not the function of the Appeal Board to determine whether the facts, singularly or cumulatively, justify the decision of the  Board of Commissioners , unless it can be shown that the  Board of Commissioners decision was clearly against the weight of the evidence. Further, the Appeal Board will not hear testimony relative to the reasonableness of previously determined Requirements for Recognition since this is clearly outside the scope of authority of this reviewing body. 

The Appeal Board may make one of the following decisions: to affirm or remand the action of the  Board of Commissioners. The decision rendered by the Appeal Board shall be final and binding.

Our policy on due process (PDF)
 
Periodic Review of Dental Specialty Education and Practice

Through the Periodic Review of Dental Specialty Education and Practice, the National Commission gathers strategic information that will be of value to the National Commission, the recognized specialty sponsoring organizations, the recognized certifying boards, the profession and the public. The review focuses on changes occurring within the advanced dental education programs, specialty practice environments, board certification, disease trends, technology, and scope of practice. The review also looks at the current environment as well as potential trends for the future and how these trends could impact the public and the profession.

Download an Overview of the Periodic Review Process (PDF)