What Makes a Family Dentist Different?

What Makes a Family Dentist Different?

┬áSelecting a dentist is an important decision. You need to see your dentist every six months. A good chance exists you’ll see him or her more than any other health care provider. You want your dentist to be someone you can trust, someone with whom you feel comfortable. One consideration is whether to choose a general dentist or a family dentist.

Differences Between General Dentists and Family Dentists

You might not have realized that a difference exists. Many patients use the terms interchangeably. But a general and family dentist are not the same thing. To be sure, the differences are subtle. Both require the same education and licensing. Both have the same letters after their name: either DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). And they both provide a broad array of services. Unlike specialists, such as orthodontists, general and family dentists don’t focus on only one area of dentistry.

There’s one place the two differ, and that’s in the area of patient focus.

General dentists see many types of patients, from the completely healthy to those with severe dental problems. But they tend to focus on adults. Many don’t accept patients under a certain age, such as 14 or 16. Some also steer clear of senior patients.

A family dentist welcomes patients of all ages. Their first patient on a given day might be a six-year-old boy. Next could be a senior woman and after that a middle-aged businessperson. There are no restrictions.

Family dentists also market to, you guessed it, entire families. Dad, mom and the kids can come in at the same time for their dental visit.

Family Dentist Services

Family dentists offer many services. Much of what they do, though, focuses on preventative maintenance. The best way to keep your teeth healthy is to take care of small problems before they become significant problems.

A typical visit to a family dentist involves a cleaning, an exam, and potentially X-rays and a fluoride treatment. The cleaning, usually performed by a hygienist, goes deeper than standard brushing and flossing. It gets rid of all the plaque and tartar that you accumulated over six months.

In the exam, the dentist evaluates your teeth and looks for problems. Potential issues include tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. If something needs attention, your family dentist can prescribe a course of treatment. They can fill cavities, for instance, and remove tooth decay. If the problem is beyond the dentist’s scope, they can refer you to a specialist.

Your dentist will probably order X-rays periodically. These help dentists spot problems they can’t see during the exam. Also, family dentists provide services such as fluoride treatments, which protect your teeth against bacteria and acid, and teeth whitening.

Family dentists are even qualified to handle more complex issues. They can also deal with any emergencies that arise. Sometimes, for instance, the damage from a cavity or tooth is more than a simple filling can fix. You might need a root canal or a crown installed. These are both services you can receive from family dentists.

From time to time, patients require emergency dental care because of trauma to their teeth. Suppose a tooth gets knocked loose in a basketball game. Or maybe you wake up in the middle of the night with unexplained tooth or gum pain. In either scenario, your family dentist can serve as your first call.

Advantages of a Family Dentist

Perhaps the biggest advantage family dentists offer is convenience. If people of various ages comprise your household, shuttling around town to different dentists is a time drain.

Let’s say you’re married with three children, ages 7, 10, and 16. Your parents, who are 70 and 67, also live in your house, and you help take care of them. Your oldest child is about to get her braces removed, and you know your 10-year-old will need them soon.

Without a family dentist, you’d need at least three dentists to meet your family’s needs. Your two younger children would see a pediatric dentist. Your parents would see one who specializes in elderly patients. You and your spouse, and probably your oldest child, could see a general dentist. On top of that, your kids with braces need an orthodontist. Just thinking about all those appointments is stressful!

Family dentists let you consolidate most of those appointments to a single office. You don’t have to shop around for different dentists. All your dental records remain in one place. And often, the dentist can schedule family members back to back. This means fewer trips to the dentist.

The differences in a family and general dentist are subtle. But they are important to know when choosing a dentist for your family. Going to a good family dentist lets your entire family have its dental needs taken care of under one roof.


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