There are over seven different types of dentistry and they all perform different services. Sometimes this makes choosing a type of dentist difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

So what is general dentistry, how does it differ from other types, and why would you need to see a general dentist? These are great questions if you’re looking for a dentist. Keep reading to learn more about general dentistry.

What is General Dentistry?

Because there are so many specialties in the world of dentistry now, it’s somewhat challenging to define general dentistry. But in short, it would be a dentist who has achieved a Doctor of Medical Dentistry or DMD, and not pursued further education. A DMD is sufficient for practicing dentistry.

General dentistry is one of the most common types of dental practice. These dentists perform dental tasks such as regular cleanings and dental check-ups. They check your gums, tooth health, focus on oral education, diagnosed and treat forms of oral diseases, and may examine x-rays to determine if you need any dental procedures.

While general dentistry is more common, it’s not in any way less easy! Other aspects of general dentistry may include:

Cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening

  • Bone grafts
  • Sealants
  • Root canals
  • Fillings
  • Bondings
  • Invisible braces
  • Taking photos of the mouth and evaluating them
  • Implants
  • Injections
  • Crowns

General dentists work closely with a dental hygienist to aid you in keeping your mouth in peak condition.

Some general dentists also have knowledge and training in dental surgery and other specialties, like orthodontics.

What is A Dental Specialist?

While a general dentist treats most oral health problems, a specialist focuses on one area and is considered an expert.

There are several different types of dental specialists.


An orthodontist specializes in the structure of the mouth and teeth. Their work may include braces, jawbones, crooked teeth, and fixing the mouth due to injury or illness.

Pediatric Dentistry

A pediatric dentist works specifically with children ages 18 and under. A pediatric dentist has had extra training in learning about the behavior of children and how their teeth form, and what problems to evaluate and foresee.


While your general dentist can examine and diagnose certain gum diseases, sometimes you need extra help from a periodontist. A periodontist has special knowledge and skills that can help treat severe gum disease or anything else related to your gums.

Oral Surgeon

Tooth extractions are one thing, but sometimes you need more surgery than a general dentist can do, and this is the area of specialty for an oral surgeon. Parts of the mouth like facial tissue, cheeks, palates, the tongue, teeth, and reconstructive surgeries like cleft lip or cancer all fall under the category of oral surgery.


There are many options to replace lost or damaged teeth than there were years ago, and this is where a prosthodontist comes it. They work with people who need teeth replacements like dental implants, bridges, or dentures.

Most general dentists will refer you to one of these specialists if they do not have the skill set needed for your case.

Why See A General Dentist?

Your general dentist is your go-to for any dental work. It’s similar to seeing your primary care doctor; you would call them with any questions and they can either help you or refer you to a dental specialist.

Some general dentists also have knowledge and training in dental surgery and can perform some oral surgeries or extractions. This requires more education and training, so you’ll want to speak to your dentist to see if they can provide the service you need.

Another good reason to see general dentists is that they typically treat members of the entire family, children included. So, if you don’t have a pediatric dentist in your area, seeing a general dentist is usually just fine. The great thing about seeing a general family dentist for your kids is that all their patient records stay in one place and the dentist understands their care more fully.

Similar to your doctor’s office, the general dentist’s office may have an emergency number or services if you happen to have a tooth emergency outside of normal office hours. This means that the dentist is on call to receive patients should an emergency, like a chipped tooth or an infection, occur.


Above all, seeing a general dentist helps you maintain the health of your mouth and in some cases, prevent certain diseases like gum disease. This means, that if a certain disease or problem is caught early enough, you will likely bypass seeing a specialist because the general dentist can treat it.

This is important for a few reasons.

First, it saves you money! Oftentimes, specialists are more expensive, even with insurance, and insurance won’t always cover the cost of the treatment.

Second, when a progressing disease is caught early, it means less invasive treatment. Keeping up with your annual check-ups will go a long way in making sure you get the preventative treatment you need.

And if you do need a specialist recommendation, most general dentists are happy to make suggestions because they network with other local dentists.

General Dentistry For You

General dentistry is a great start for everyone to keep their teeth healthy and have preventative care. Seeing a general dentist is one of the best steps you can take for oral health.

Are you looking for a dentist near you? We can help! Our compassionate and caring team is ready to aid you in all your oral health needs!