The terms “family dentist” and “general dentist” are often thrown around interchangeably. After all, they both have the same primary goal of achieving the best and healthiest smiles for their patients. While they are often used in place of one another, they really are not quite the same.
What to consider in any dentist?
Before we break down the similarities and differences of family dentists and general dentists, let’s take a moment and review what any quality dentist is going to have and what you need to look out for.
- A good dentist will take the time to explain any needed procedures so you understand both the problem as well as the solution, allowing you to confidently go forward with treatment.
- Your dentist should also be taking routine x-rays, performing thorough oral exams, and be recommending and following your regular hygiene visits.
- Your comfort and concerns should also be important to your dentist, including you being able to express your fears and have them be addressed directly as well as some solutions to give you the best outcome.
Your family dentist should care about you as well as your oral health, taking into consideration how you feel and any questions that you might have.
What do they have in common?
Before we break these two types of dentistry apart, let’s review what they do have in common.
- Both family dentists and general dentists have to receive an extensive education before they can practice on patients. This includes an undergraduate education before proceeding to dental school for four years.
- Restorative care, as well as proper hygiene, is a common focus for both types of dentists. They can usually handle regular cleaning visits, as well as fillings, crowns, and bridges. Patients will receive their regular twice yearly hygiene visits as well as annual checkups and x-rays with the doctor.
- They both concentrate what it takes for patients to receive the best oral health, including reviewing lifestyle choices, dietary choices, and homecare.
Both dentists should review your oral health and any issues that you have or could have as well as any solutions out there.
What is the difference?
While we have looked over how family dentists and general dentists are the same, there are still a couple of differences that you should understand before you choose one over the other.
- Family dentists care for the whole family. Many general dentists will not see children under a certain age. Sometimes general dentists will only see patients 16 and over, while others are more willing to see children, but not usually younger children who may not be ready to sit in the hygiene chair.
- Seeing a family dentist will save you time. If you have young children, keeping everyone at the same dental office will save you the trouble of having to go back and forth between an adult dentist and a pediatric dentist. Family dentists are both.
- There is more attention spent on creating a positive experience at a family dental office. General dentists normally only handle older patients, so while bedside manner is always important, the attention on patients is typically less. With a family dental office, more time and focus is spent on making sure that all members of the family are having a positive dental experience.
Family dentists are a good choice for patients of all ages, from children to the elderly. General dentists are a better choice for adults.
Which is the right choice?
In the event that you do not have a family to take to the dentist, you could go to a general dentist for your needs. But even though you could go there does not mean you should miss out on the opportunities of an attentive and more sympathetic family dentist.
You can hope that all dentists will be sensitive to your needs, but a family dental practice is built to ensure positivity and comfort, putting all worried patients to ease.
In fact, their environments within their offices are usually created with comfort in mind, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere that immediately puts you at ease.
If you build your family, later on, having a family dentist already will make things easier for you. Family care is important and can change your perception of dentistry in as little as one visit, taking away any fears or concerns that you might have had about going to the dentist.