Both family and general dentistry provide preventative maintenance for clients of all ages. A typical bi-annual visit consists of a thorough teeth cleaning and check up for cavities, gingivitis, and any other tooth or gum condition that may cause problems. If your family's mouths are reliably healthy, a family dentist may be the right choice for you.
Family Dentistry Services
In a typical year, you'll visit the dental office two times in order to have your teeth thoroughly cleaned which eliminate the plaque buildup that's not always preventable during your daily brushing routine. The hygienist will first scrape any plaque from the surface of your teeth with a pointed tool, then she'll brush the front and back of each tooth with a small rotating brush which is designed to remove any remaining plaque as well as polish your teeth. Sometimes you'll also receive a fluoride treatment, which helps to strengthen your teeth and prevent cavities. Each visit will also include a thorough check for cavities and other potential problems with your teeth or gums.
Many dental insurance plans cover x-rays, which may be taken once a year. The x-ray is an extra measure, which helps your dentist see any hidden cavities, especially those that may begin to form between your teeth.
Formal Training and Clinical Experience
Family dentistry requires an undergraduate degree, a passing grade on the Dental Admission Test (or DAT), and an additional three to five years of dental school. The extra schooling focuses on general dentistry topics and intense clinical training. Before graduation, the prospective dentist must pass the National Board Dental Examinations (or NBDE). He's then eligible to be licensed and will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery or the Doctor of Dental Medicine. Both these titles refer to the same education program.
At this point, those who aspire to work in the general or family field are eligible to begin their official career. Some, however, decide to continue their education for another couple years and specialize in one of the many aspects of dentistry. These options include:
– Endodontics: The study and care of the tooth pulp, which is found inside the tooth.
– Orthodontics: Cosmetic procedures which are designed to straighten the teeth and jaw.
– Pedodontics (or Pediatric Dentistry): Caring for children's teeth.
– Periodontics: The study and care of the gums, which surround and support the teeth.
– Prosthodontics: Aesthetic treatment including implants and mouth reconstruction.
Many family dentists pursue further education and qualification to perform common cosmetic procedures such as tooth whitening with various solutions or through porcelain veneers. These treatments are widely used, so it's beneficial for the average family dentist to be able to offer them to his clients.
Choosing Your Local Dental Office
There are many factors to consider when you're looking for a new dentist. Having an office that's close to your home is nice, but you also want to be sure you feel confident in the care you'll be receiving. It does not hurt to interview a few professionals before making your final choice.