Family Dentist vs. General Dentist: What’s the Difference?

9 August 2023

The terms “family dentist” and “general dentist” are often used interchangeably. After all, the two have a lot in common. Both offer similar dental services with the goal of maintaining patients’ oral health and preventing diseases. They also both have the same amount of training. So, what is the difference between the two?

In fact, there are several key differences between family dentists and general dentists that you should know. We’ll explain these differences in this article so you can choose the best dentist for you.

What is a general dentist?

The goal of a general dentist is to maintain your oral health. As a result, they offer a wide range of services. Your general dentist performs regular checkups, examinations, cleanings, fillings, root canals, and other restoration procedures. Additionally, they create customized dental hygiene plans to help prevent the development of diseases and tooth decay.

Ultimately, general dentists are responsible for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral health conditions. They use modern diagnostic equipment and extensive training to detect and treat problems as early as possible. If specialized care is needed, a general dentist will refer you to a specialist.

General dentists have an undergraduate education, as well as four years of dentistry school. They choose to focus on a specific age group in their practice. For example, some general dentists won’t see patients under the age of 16.

What is a family dentist?

Family dentistry is a subset of general dentistry, which also requires an undergraduate degree and four years of dentistry school. However, family dentists treat patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly. This means that a family dentist can be responsible for the oral health of every member of your family. There’s no need to visit multiple dentists.

Furthermore, family dentists focus on developing lasting bonds with their patients and, often, their families. A family dentist can care for your teeth from infancy through adulthood and into older age.

A family dentist offers the same preventative, diagnostic, and treatment services as a general dentist. You can see them for routine examinations, cleanings, fillings, extractions, and more.

Since family dentistry includes children’s dentistry and dentistry for the elderly, education plays a larger role in their duties. For example, a family dentist teaches proper brushing techniques to toddlers. They also show elderly patients the correct way to clean their dentures.

Key Differences Between General Dentistry and Family Dentistry

There are several key differences between general dentists and family dentists. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

  1. The age range of their patients is the main difference between general dentists and family dentists. A family dentist provides dental care services to patients of all ages. This includes infants, toddlers, children, teens, young adults, mature adults, and the elderly. A general dentist, on the other hand, often only focuses on young adults and mature adults.
  2. Since they treat a wider age range of patients, family dentists sometimes offer additional services that differ from their general dentist counterparts. For example, a family dentist may also provide orthodontic treatments, pediatric dentistry, and geriatric dentistry.
  3. Additionally, a family dentist may place greater emphasis on preventive care and education due to the ages of their clientele. Young children need to be educated on how to best take care of their oral health and understand its importance. Additionally, older patients must be shown how to care for their teeth (and dentures) as they age.

Should I see a general dentist or a family dentist?

If you are trying to choose between seeing a general dentist and a family dentist, there is one major question to consider: do you need a dentist for your family or just yourself?

The biggest difference between general dentistry and family dentistry is the age range of accepted patients. General dentists often do not accept children under the age of 16. However, this isn’t a problem if you don’t have children and don’t plan on having any.

If you have a family, then a family dentist is the better choice. Similarly, you should consider switching to a family dentist if you foresee children in the future, even if you don’t have kids right now. This allows you to develop a great relationship with your dentist before your family grows.

What are the dental care services provided by general and family dentists at Oakville Place Dental Office?

Oakville Place Dental Office is a full-service dental clinic focused on family care. Consequently, we offer a range of general and family dentistry treatments to help families and individuals maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Preventative Care

When it comes to dental care, prevention is always better than treatment. Preventative dental care focuses on preventing oral health issues from developing in the first place. Regular checkups, professional cleanings, and oral cancer screenings all fall into this category.

Restorative Dentistry

Any procedure that restores the function and appearance of your smile is an example of restorative dentistry. For instance, fillings, dental implants, bridges, and crowns are all used to treat missing or severely damaged teeth and restore proper function.

Pediatric Dentistry

Pediatric dentistry specializes in dental care for children. At Oakville Place Dental Office, our family-friendly team provides preventative and restorative care for our littlest patients. This includes cleanings, fillings, and dental sealants to prevent cavities.


Periodontal dentistry focuses on the health of your gums. It involves the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease, oral inflammation, and gingivitis. Additionally, periodontics can include certain cosmetic procedures. Crown lengthening, bone grafting, and pocket reduction surgery are all covered by periodontic dentistry.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Both general dentists and family dentists can perform some cosmetic procedures. The goal of these treatments is to improve the appearance of your smile. For example, teeth whitening, veneers, implants, crowns, and orthodontics can be used to transform your smile.

Endodontic Treatments

Root canals are a type of endodontic treatment. This safe and common procedure removes an infection from the area inside of a tooth. A root canal allows you to keep your natural tooth, unlike extractions.

Need a General Dentist? Choose Oakville Place Dental Office

Oakville Place Dental Office provides an extensive range of dental services for patients of all ages. Our general and family dentistry treatments include sealants, fillings, teeth whitening, implants, and more. We take care of all your preventative, diagnostic, and treatment needs!

Plus, our professional, experienced, and friendly team has worked hard to create a comfortable environment for you and your family. We want you to have a positive and pain-free experience. Additionally, we work with your insurance company, billing them directly whenever possible.

For a dentist in Oakville, call Oakville Place Dental Office at 905-842-6030 or contact us here.

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