What Is a Family Dentist & How Do They Differ From a General Dentist?

What Is a Family Dentist & How Do They Differ From a General Dentist?
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What Is a Family Dentist & How Do They Differ From a General Dentist?Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. What Is a Family Dentist?
  2. Benefits of Seeing a Family Dentist
  3. A Family Dentist vs a General Dentist
  4. Dental Services Offered by a Family Dentist
  5. References
A family dentist can offer convenience and a personal relationship with your entire family. Family dentists often work in a practice with other dental professionals, so the office can serve as a one-stop shop for most of your family’s dental needs.
The main difference between a general dentist and a family dentist is the age range that they treat. A family dentist will treat people of all ages, including children and seniors and everyone in between.
The benefits of a family dentist include the ability to form personal connections with someone who will know your family dental history. This can help them recognize issues early while they can be more easily treated.

What Is a Family Dentist?

There are more than 200,000 dentists in practice in the United States, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The majority of these dentists practice general dentistry; however, many also specialize in certain fields of expertise as well.

A family dentist has experience treating people of various ages. They don’t primarily treat either pediatrics (children) or adults; instead, they treat the whole range of ages.

Family dentists often work in family dentistry practice that houses several dentists under one roof. Family dentists can manage oral care issues for the entire family, so they get to know your family history well.

These are examples of treatments offered by a family dentist:

  • Routine checkups
  • Professional cleanings
  • X-rays
  • Sealants
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Fillings
  • Root canals
  • Crown placements

A family dentist will be your primary dentist and the professional you will go to for your general dental needs. The services offered by family dentists can vary. Check with yours directly to find out what dental services they provide.

Benefits of Seeing a Family Dentist

One of the major benefits of a family dentist is convenience. You will only need to find a dentist one time for your entire family, and you can go to them for your whole life, from infancy through adulthood.

It is recommended that babies go to the dentist for the first time at least by their first birthday, or within six months of the first tooth coming in.1 A family dentist can start seeing your infant at this first appointment and then continue providing dental care for their entire life. A family dentist can therefore build a relationship with you and your family.

Preventative dental care can help to lower your risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and more serious dental and medical concerns.2 Many medical issues can be spotted through regular dental examinations and preventative care methods.

A family dentist can also help to alleviate anxiety surrounding going to the dentist. Nearly 10 percent of children have some fear and anxiety about dental visits. Building a relationship with a family dentist can help to lower this stress.

When your children see you going to the same person, their own fears can be eased. A family dentist can become a familiar face. Most family dental practices have a lot of experience helping to alleviate fear and anxiety in young children at the dentist.

The Difference Between a Family Dentist & a General Dentist

A family dentist will often have the same education, credentials, and accreditations as a general dentist. In fact, they are a general dentist.

The main difference between the two is that general dentists often only treat adults or children up to a certain age.

Dental Services Offered by a Family Dentist

A family dental practice will often have more than one dentist on site. They may have specialists on staff who can treat a variety of dental issues. With this versatility, family dentists can often treat most dental conditions and services.

Family dental practices may have the following professionals on staff:

  • Pediatric dentist
  • Endodontist
  • Orthodontist
  • Periodontist
  • Emergency or after-hours dentist

A family dentist can be an important medical partner for your entire family. They can offer both preventative and necessary dental services when needed. Knowledge of your family history can help to potentially catch medical or dental issues in their early stages, as your family dentist will know specifically what to screen for. Nothing is potentially lost in the referral process.

A family dentist can meet the majority of your dental needs. Take your time to find one that is convenient to where you live and that you feel comfortable building a lasting relationship with.

General References

Workforce. (2021). American Dental Association (ADA). Date Fetched: September 26, 2021.

Factors Associated With Dental Fear and Anxiety in Children Aged 7 to 9 Years. (September 2019). Dentistry Journal. Date Fetched: September 26, 2021.

Medical References

1 A Child’s First Dental Visit Fact Sheet. (2021). Stanford Children’s Health. Date Fetched: September 26, 2021.

2 What Is Preventative Dentistry? (June 2019). Cigna. Date Fetched: September 26, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.