Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Is There a Difference Between a Family, General, and a Dentist?

The American Dental Association recommends you visit a dentist twice a year for a checkup. During these visits your dentist will not only clean your teeth, but also take regular x-rays, check for cavities and provide instruction on how to better care for your teeth if they encounter any issues while examining the patient.

Is there a difference between a family dentist, general dentist, and a dentist? These three terms seem to be used interchangeably. They generally are one and the same.

In name, a "family dentist" should be open to looking after the overall dental health of your entire family, regardless of age of the family members. Each age range has its own dental issues and obstacles, which well-versed family dentists will be able to help prevent, or diagnose and address. There are also pediatric dentists who specialize in the dental health of children, but most likely if you see a family dentist your children will be welcome there as well. Starting around age 3, children should begin regular dental check-ups. Some dentists do not take children on as patients, so check first to see if your dentist is open to this or not. Then, it is up to you if you would rather your child see a pediatric dentist, or if you would rather stay with your dentist who most likely has a good family history with you and has built trust with you over the years.

Dentists also perform a number of daily tasks other than general teeth cleaning. While their main task is to diagnose and treat issues involving teeth, gums and mouth; they also give advice related to diet and tooth brushing, preventative maintenance, fill cavities, straighten teeth, extract teeth, perform root canals, and make crowns, dentures, and partials.

The family dentist has the ability and training to consider proper care of most fundamental needs of people of any age from childhood well into their later years.

There are nine dental specialties available if a dentist chooses to focus on a specific area of study. These specialty areas include:

· Orthodontics
· Oral and maxillofacial surgery
· Periodontics
· Prosthodontics
· Public health dentistry
· Oral and maxillofacial pathology
· Endodontic
· Pediatric dentistry
· Oral and maxillofacial radiology

Educational requirements to become a dentist include an undergraduate study focusing on science and math followed by 4 years of graduate work in dentistry. After graduation, dentists must pass a national examination and clinical boards to practice as a family dentist.

By Renee Maikon DDS

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