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Family Dentistry

 

Like general dentistry, family dentistry or family dentists perform services that relate to the maintenance of oral hygiene and tooth care. Family dentists treat patients ranging in age from babies to seniors, and are a great choice for those who want to schedule the whole family for dental care at once. There are nine dentistry specialties and family dentists are trained in all areas, however, they mainly practice restorative and preventive procedures. It’s not uncommon to see patients over the age of 70 in the waiting room sitting next to toddlers and their parents.

Upon graduation and licensure, many new graduates find themselves going to work in a family or general dentist practice. Very few continue their training to become specialized in a specific field. For example, a pediatric dentist or pedodontist must complete an additional 4 years of training, mainly focused on dentistry, with additional classes such as child psychology. Oral surgeons require an additional 4-6 years of training to become specialized.

Benefits of Choosing a Family Dentist

There are a few benefits to choosing a family dentist, including:

  • Schedule entire family at once
  • They are trained in several fields of dentistry
  • Young patients become familiar instead of fearful of dentist

Many times people find comfort in seeing the same dentist over the course of their lifetime. Dentists are usually feared, and getting people in to see them even for a regular check-up can be difficult. Family dentists have the opportunity to become well acquainted with their patients over the period of many years. Many times they watch generations within families grow and blossom.

Family Dentist Training and Education

Family dentistry is almost always viewed in the same light as general dentistry, since they are considered the first line of defense against oral problems. The American Dental Association believes you should see your family dentist every six months for a regular check-up and cleaning. But it’s more important to talk to your own dentist to find out how long you should wait between your checkups and cleanings. Family dentists are fully educated and trained to perform all routine procedures, including common ones such as:

  • Radiographs (x-rays)
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Deep cleanings
  • Detect cavities and other tooth and jaw abnormalities
  • Dental fillings, crowns, caps, implants and root canals

Depending on the State and university, dentists either need to earn an undergraduate degree or meet a certain amount of credits, pass the DAT (Dental Admission Test), and complete a 3-5 year dental program. Once graduated, the family dentist will then be awarded the DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) accreditation. Then the dentist will then need to acquire a state license by passing the NBDE (National Board Dental Examinations) parts I and II, as well as a state or regional clinical exam. Each State has additional requirements that must be met, which may include a jurisprudence exam, residency requirements or a background check.

Where to Find a Family Dentist

Family dentists are not hard to find. They are generally located along local roads in communities across the country. If you aren’t sure or are new to an area, you may want to talk to family and friends, neighbors or other dental facilities for referrals. Local directories such as phone books also display a large number of family dentists in your area. A quick Google search can also yield results of dentists close by. The American Dental Association website also allows you to find a dentist in your area.

It’s important to know that family dentists work in conjunction with other dental specialists, such as orthodontists. If you are seeing an orthodontist, ask him or her if they can refer or suggest a good, family dentist that is close by. The American Dental Association website also allows you to find a dentist in your area.

Next, learn about finding the right dentist.

Page updated September 2012

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