Are General Dentists the Same as Primary Care Dentists?

Patients who are in need of dental work may be confused to hear about general dentists and primary care dentists as well as family dentists and wonder what the difference is. It is important for patients to understand the differences to be able to make a decision about which dentist to choose. While either a general dentist or a family dentist can serve as a patient's primary dental care provider, one may be a better option for a particular individual.

What is a general dentist?

A general dentist is a primary care dentist who focuses on overall oral health and works to diagnose, manage and treat any issues that can arise with the gums and teeth. These professionals may set restrictions on the age group of patients that are seen and some may not treat children. If there is an age limit, families may have to go to multiple dentists to fully cover the dental needs of the entire family. These dentists may not perform specialized procedures but usually do the more common services, such as fillings, crowns, extractions, root canals, bridges and veneers. The particular procedures done can vary from office to office.

What is a family dentist?

A family dentist is one who offers full dental services to patients of any age. These dentists work to educate patients on proper dental health as well as to provide numerous dental procedures and treatment options. Patients of all ages, from young children to the elderly, may be treated. This type of dentist is often used by families as it is typically more convenient for them: Every family member is able to have dental care in the same office and there is no need to have multiple appointments with different providers at other locations.

What are the differences and similarities between these professionals?

There is only one real difference between general and family dentists, and that is that general dentists often treat specific age groups and do not see children, whereas a family dentist will treat patients of any and all ages. Family dentists also often focus more heavily on the education of proper oral hygiene in all patients. Both usually offer the same types of basic dental services. These dentists also go through similar training, which includes an undergraduate education of at least three years before going on to complete the four years of dental school that is required before graduation.

Conclusion

Knowing what the difference is between general dentists and family dentists can help patients determine which is the better option to be their primary care dentist. The main difference between the two is that family dentists have no restrictions on the age of patients, which can make one an easier and more convenient option for those who have children. Both of these dentists go through a large amount of schooling and training and can usually perform most of the basic dental procedures that are needed. Regardless of which type is chosen, patients can visit the dentist knowing their oral health will be taken care of.

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