What is a general dentist? A general dentist is a primary care dentist who is able to provide a variety of dental surgery services and procedures for people of all ages. Most dentists are general dentists.
There are around 200,000 dentists in the United States. About 80% of them are general dentists. So there are about 2,000 people for every general dentist in the US. Some of these dentists own their own practice. Some work for another dental practice. Others work for the military, government, corporations, research companies, and higher education.
General dentists generalize, not specialize
As opposed to working as a specialist, they generalize in cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dental care. Some of the procedures that general dentists perform at their office include but are not limited to:
- Root Canals
- Teeth Cleaning
- Dental Exam & Check-up
- Dental Implants
- Dental Bridges
- Dentures & Partial Dentures
- TMD/TMJ Therapy
- Orthodontics (Including Traditional Braces & Invisalign)
- Oral Surgery
- Wisdom Teeth Removal
- Tooth Extraction
- Emergency Dental Care
- Oral Cancer Screening
- Teeth Whitening
- Porcelain Veneers
That isn’t to say that a general dentist couldn’t or wouldn’t choose to limit the scope of what they offer.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends regular dental appointments at intervals determined by a licensed dentist. Some individuals may require visits more often than others. However, as a general rule, most dentists recommend a check-up and cleaning every six months. This will help you in preventing most problems from getting too advanced.
Unfortunately many people do not schedule regular appointments to visit their dentist and get a check-up. Regular visits to your dentist will allow him to check for any signs of tooth decay, gum disease, plaque build up, and oral cancer.
Advanced stages of gum disease, tooth decay, and other unchecked oral health problems can create long term dental health problems and require more extensive and more costly treatment to fix.
What are their qualifications?
General dentists have finished 4 years of dental school, usually after they have obtained a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the school they graduated from, they will be a DMD or DDS. There is essentially no difference in these designations in terms of training. Their training is the same. However, different schools grant one of the two different titles.
Most dentists will work with a variety of private dental insurance. They will also often accept cash, credit, and even be willing to offer some sort of payment plan. Not all dentists will accept Medicaid patients. It is best to call the office of the dentist you plan on visiting beforehand to check on details regarding payment plans and insurance before scheduling an appointment.
On your initial dental visit it is customary to arrive early. The purpose of this is to fill out any paperwork and forms you may be required to complete before being seen by the dentist.
Hopefully this answered your question, what is a general dentist?