What is a family dentist and how do they differ from general dentists?

Though similar to a general dentist who may specialize in a specific field of dentistry such as orthodontics or endodontic, family dentists provide a wide array of specialty services. Family dentists provide care to patients of all ages, whereas general dentists may restrict the ages of people they treat. Many dental practices use “family” in their business name without actually being a family dental practice. Additionally, general dental practices often advertise services for the whole family. So before making a decision on where your family will receive dental treatment, it’s a wise idea to shop around, ask questions, and research before you commit to a dental practice who might not be the best fit for your entire family.

Online searches for local dental practices can certainly be helpful in determining where you take your family for their dental needs, but a better avenue to take your online search is the American Dental Association (ADA) “Mouth Healthy” website. Here you can narrow your search by travel distance, specific services, insurance terms, and even office visit policies. Consider your family’s specific dental needs when seeking the right dentist for you and your family.

Generally speaking, a family dentist will typically focus on standard areas of oral health care such as eliminating tooth decay, ensuring gum health, filling cavities, and reducing plaque buildup around teeth. But for more severe problems, a family dentist could refer you to an outside specialist. That’s why it’s important to look for a dental group or practice whose dentists provide multiple specialties under one roof. Family dental gatherings that offer more than one specific dental specialist in their training bear the cost of the entire family the accommodation of a “one stop” answer for their dental care needs.

Consider a dentist that specializes in treating children’s teeth, who treats the pulp and roots, who specializes in gum care, and a family dental group with an in-house dental hygienist. You can find family dentists who provide the services you require at a single office. That said, if you do your research and know where to look, the right family dental group could result in fewer office visits. And with a family dental group, more than likely you’ll be able to make appointments for multiple family members to be scheduled for the same time. This is a huge time saver, as you won’t have to wait on back-to-back appointments or appointments spanning multiple days.

The greatest benefit of visiting the same dentist as your child is that your family dentist will be familiar with you and your child’s medical history. This is of huge importance because virtually everything about your child’s genetics are inherited from his/her parents. These genetic traits dictate not only position of your child’s teeth and jaw structure, but research also shows genetics play a role in our overall oral health.

Conflicting traits such as a dad’s small jaw with mom’s large teeth can help a family dentist predict and plan for the possibility their child may need orthodontic work in the future. Or if a parent has issues with gum disease, it’s probable that the child has inherited the same bacteria and inadequate immune response. This foresight helps family dentists plan a course of action to aid in the prevention/correction of oral health issues your child may face as they grow up.

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Ross Cameron

Ross Cameron

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