There are many reasons to consider choosing either a family dentist or a general dentist. A move to a new location, changing dental needs, or even the retirement of a current dentist can lead a patient to weigh the available options in dental care. Knowing the difference in the services and restrictions of each type of practice can help patients make informed choices about dental care.
Why choose a general dentist?
General dentists are trained through dental school following an undergraduate degree. Routine cleanings and services are typically offered at this type of practice, as well as other services like root canals, crowns, veneers, and similar enhancement options. General dentists often restrict their practices to specific age groups. Specific dental needs vary across age groups. One general dentist may focus solely on the dental health of children, while another may focus on the care of elderly patients with dentures.
Why choose a family dentist?
Family dentists receive the same extensive education and training as general dentists and often offer similar procedures as a general dentist, as well as typical routine cleanings and patient education about dental hygiene. However, there are a few key differences in the two types of practices.
Treatments for all ages
The major difference between the two types of dental practices is that a family dentistry does not restrict patients by age. The focus is on the education of proper cleaning and care for patients of all ages. From teeth cleanings in young children through the care of dentures in the elderly, these practices help guide all ages of patients in proper dental hygiene.
More than cleaning
In addition to routine cleanings, appointments focus on preventing dental health issues across all age groups. Plaque removal, flouride treatments and sealants, and cavity detection and treatment, as well as gum disease prevention and treatment, are all part of a typical visit. Yearly X-rays keep dentists aware of any shifting of teeth below the gumline and alert them to problems that may arise, such as impaction and tooth alignment issues. These exams inform dentists of the need for oral surgery or extractions so that they may guide patients in choosing the appropriate dental care.
Ease of scheduling
Treating patients of all ages makes these practices a practical option for families that consist of members across several age groups. Sending all family members to one physician is easier to schedule and track. These practices often strive to schedule appointments for multiple family members at the same time or one after the other if desired, to ease the travel and scheduling burden on families.
A general dentist often focuses more on specific age groups in each practice, while a family dentist has a much broader focus of treatment of patients across all ages and dental needs. The makeup of a family, along with the specific dental needs of each patient, should be taken into account when choosing a dental care provider.
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