What is a family dentist? What procedures does family dentistry entail?

Benjamin Wang

Written by Benjamin Wang DDS, Nichole McKenna DDS

A family dentist is any practitioner that caters to the entire family. He or she may treat anyone from infancy to old age. It is a matter of convenience whether patients choose to all go to the same dentist.

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Family dentist vs. dental specialists

A general and family dentist is almost the same. They are the experts you visit when you feel something is up and when it’s time for routine checkups. The difference is that a family dentist is just as comfortable dealing with children as elderly patients, whereas a general one might refer patients to pedodontists or geriatric dentists.

A family dentist’s education is four years in dental school after receiving a bachelor’s degree. They often attend specialist courses to update their knowledge on the latest techniques.

What is family dentistry exactly?

Family dentistry includes services ranging from the first tooth inspection to restoring missing teeth. Procedures performed on the patient may depend on their age. Here is a run-down of the most popular treatments according to how old you are.

Babies and toddlers

Children dental cleaning

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The rule of thumb is to take your baby to a dentist when the first tooth erupts or before their first birthday. Oral issues may start at this time. You can consult with a family dentist about how you should take care of your child’s mouth.

The most common problems in the youngest patients include painful teething and cavities. Starting these visits early can also prevent future dental anxiety.


Composite dental filling

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Older children require a very particular type of care. This is because they are going through a difficult transition phase from primary to secondary dentition. Orthodontic monitoring and extensive oral hygiene are very important at this stage.

Most frequently, patients at this age need routine checkups, fillings, and fluoride treatments.


Invisalign Teen treatment

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Dental care of this age group is concentrated around prevention, treatment of tooth decay, and orthodontics. Family dentists are almost always proficient in all these areas. Many of them are Invisalign providers and willing to oversee aligner treatment.

Fillings and root canals are also common procedures for teenagers. Neglecting to treat infections in the mouth could lead to serious complications later on.


Soft tissue impacted wisdom tooth

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Adults are the biggest age group in the US. It’s not surprising then, that they also make up a large part of dental care. Preventative measures such as checkups and cleanings should be attended at least once a year.

Popular procedures performed on adults include cavity fillings, root canal treatments, and extractions. The last concerns mainly wisdom teeth, as third molars can cause a lot of trouble. Gum disease is pretty common as well. Family dentists are equipped to treat all of these issues.


Full lower dentures

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Dental care of the elderly is mostly about treating gum disease, root decay, and tooth restoration or replacement. The ADA reports that almost 1 in every 5 Americans over 65 has lost all of their teeth. Family dentists can provide solutions such as dentures, crowns, bridges, and implants.

If you choose to go with the first (e.g. due to the low cost of dentures), you may be facing more oral issues. Those include oral cancer, dry mouth, and lesions. All these conditions require action.


What is the difference between a family and a general dentist?

General and family dentists perform similar procedures and hold the same degree. The main difference is that the latter is a dentist comfortable with treating patients in all age groups. The whole family can be a patient at the same professional.

General dentists may be reluctant to work with children and the elderly. They might also not be as familiar with tooth restoration or orthodontics.

How do I choose a family dentist?

It’s a good idea to find a family dentist in your area. Members of the family may have appointments at different times of the year so it’s just convenient. Other things to consider are waiting periods and prices. Both tend to be lower in smaller towns rather than big cities.

Authority Dental can help you find a great family dentist in your area. Check our dental office near me service to learn more details.

Who is a better choice for your child' dental needs: a pedodontist or a family dentist?

Family dentists are comfortable and knowledgeable when it comes to pediatric dental care. Pedodontists, however, specialize in it. If you have the option, it is recommended you send your kid to a child specialist who will perform procedures expertly and make sure your child feels safe, especially if there are many restorative needs.


  1. Tooth eruption: The permanent teeth - ADA
  2. Children's Oral Health - CDC
  3. Strategies to manage patients with dental anxiety and dental phobia: literature review - NCBI
  4. Secondary Dentition - ScienceDirect
  5. Fluoride treatments in the dental office: Extra protection for your teeth - ADA
  6. Facts About Older Adult Oral Health - CDC