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Updated on November 28, 2023
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Family Dentistry

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What is Family Dentistry?

Family dentists are trained to provide dental care for people from infancy through adulthood.

If you have a family dentist, you can see them for your entire life. They’ll keep a detailed record of your dental care history and needs. 

A family dentist can also care for your entire family. Having the same dentist saves time and results in more personalized care.

When to Choose a Family Dentist

Knowing which type of dentist is right for you can be confusing. You should see a family dentist if you:

  • Want to see one dentist throughout your life
  • Have a family and don’t want to see multiple dentists
  • Need a variety of dental services

Family dentists are highly trained, experienced dental providers and can see patients of all ages and needs.

mother watching daughter getting her teeth checked

Family Dentist vs. General Dentist

General dentists are the leading providers of oral health care. Roughly 80% of all practicing dentists are general dentists.1 Both dentists undergo in-depth training before they can practice dentistry. They are equally equipped to perform a wide range of dental procedures. 

Their difference lies primarily in the age range of their patients. While some general dentists treat people of all ages, they are often more restrictive regarding the age groups they treat. Most general dentists will only treat patients aged 16 and older.

Family dentists, on the other hand, specialize in treating entire families throughout all stages of life. For example, they can track how a baby’s oral care needs change as they become adults.

Family Dentist vs. Pediatric Dentist

Pediatric dentists specialize exclusively in dental care for children aged 18 or younger. Once a teenager turns 18, they will need to see a general or family dentist. 

Family dentists do not specialize in treating just one age group. They are also well-versed in oral disease treatment for children and adults.

However, seeing a pediatric dentist can make sense if your child has complex needs or oral diseases specific to childhood. Pediatric dentists may be more prepared to handle a nervous child.2 

If you see a family dentist, they may refer you to a pediatric dentist when needed. 

What Do Family Dentists Specialize In?

Family dentists specialize in a wide range of services for patients of all ages, including:

  • General dental care — This includes routine teeth cleanings, exams, and restorations.
  • Fillings — A family dentist can repair your cavities with fillings.
  • Fluoride treatment — Children, adolescents, and teens will receive topical fluoride treatment at the family dentist to prevent cavities and strengthen enamel. 
  • Restorative dentistry — You can have damaged or missing teeth restored by your family dentist.
  • Dental procedures under sedation — Family dentists are trained to perform certain procedures with sedatives. 
  • Cosmetic dentistry — If you want the aesthetic appearance of your smile altered, you can have that done at your family dentist’s office.


Family dentists are highly trained dental practitioners who see patients of all ages and life stages. Unlike general or pediatric dentists, their practice is not restricted by age.

You may wish to get a family dentist if you want to keep seeing the same provider as you age. A family dentist can also take care of your entire family, which eliminates the need to see multiple providers.

Last updated on November 28, 2023
4 Sources Cited
Last updated on November 28, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Professionally Active Dentists by Specialty Field.” State Health Facts, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2021.
  2. Mohammed, K. “The Applied Importance of Pediatric Dentistry (An Overview).” Interventions in Pediatric Dentistry Open Access Journal, Lupine Publishers, 2020.
  3. Syrbu, J.The Complete Pre-Dental Guide to Modern Dentistry.” Google Books, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.
  4. Nowak, A. “Pediatric Dentistry: Infancy through Adolescence.” Google Books, Elsevier, 2019.
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