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Family Dentist vs General Dentist: Understanding the Differences

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The dental industry is vast, with many specialties and practitioners to give you the best oral healthcare possible. Two prevalent categories are family and general dentists. Though both offer essential dental services, they differ in their training, services, and target patients. This article will look deeper into the differences between family and general dentists to help you choose the right one for your family's dental healthcare needs.

Training and Education

Family dentists undergo the same training and education as general dentists. They both earn a Doctorate of Dental Medicine (DDM) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree before practicing dentistry. However, family dentists receive more training in pediatric care, which allows them to care for patients of all ages and provide dental care for children, infants, and the elderly.

Services Offered

General dentists provide a range of services necessary to maintain general oral health, including teeth cleaning, extractions, fillings, and crowns. They specialize in general dentistry, making them generalists. On the other hand, family dentists specialize in a broader field of dentistry that also covers pediatric and orthodontic dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and dental implants, making them specialists in family dentistry.

Patient Population

While general dentists provide treatment to patients of all ages, family dentists focus on serving families and providing dental care to patients of all ages from the same family. A general dentist may refer their patients to a pediatric dentist for specialized care in children's dentistry, while a family dentist can treat both adult and child patients.

Dental Office Environment

The type of dental office environment may differ between a general dentist and a family dentist. A general dentist's office may focus on accommodating a more significant number of patients, which could result in a less personalized approach to your dental treatment. On the other hand, a family dentist's office may possess a more kid-friendly environment to create a welcoming atmosphere for parents and their children.


Cost is, of course, a major factor in selecting a dentist. Although family dentists may offer more specialized services, general dentists' costs may differ based on the services provided. Generally, services provided by family dentists are more expensive than general dentistry procedures. However, most dental insurance plans typically cover both general and family dental services, so cost may not be a significant concern for most patients.

Choosing between a family dentist and a general dentist comes down to personal preference, dental care needs, and family dynamics. For a family looking for one-stop comprehensive dental care, a family dentist may be an ideal choice. However, if you require general dental care and do not have a family, then a general dentist may be the best option for you. Ultimately, both family and general dentists play a critical role in promoting good oral health, and every individual should prioritize regular dental check-ups and treatment regardless of their professional specialty.

For more information on the difference between a family dentist and a general dentist, contact a professional near you.