Updated on February 9, 2024
4 min read

Family Dentistry

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Key Takeaways

  • Unlike general or pediatric dentists, family dentists aren’t restricted by age
  • Family dentists are great if you want to see the same provider as you age
  • Family dentists can take care of your entire family to eliminate the need for multiple providers

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.

A family dentist can care for your entire family and maintain detailed records of your dental care. This helps them provide personalized care while saving time and money.

What Do Family Dentists Specialize In?

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

  • General dental care — 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

Are Family Dentists More Affordable?

Family dentists don’t specialize, which means their services can be more affordable than other types of dental providers. On the other hand, dental specialists must finish additional schooling to become experts in their field, which means their services cost more.

Additionally, specialized treatment is often more labor-intensive and involves specialized items like braces and other corrective appliances. Lastly, you can save money by having one dentist provide care for your family instead of having multiple dentists for each member.

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 people 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. 

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.

What to Look For in a Family Dentist?

You can often find a family dentist through referrals from friends, doctors, or even other dentists. You can also find a dentist through the American Dental Association’s (ADA) website, www.ada.org.

However, there are a few factors to keep in mind while searching for a family dentist. This includes:

  • The number of family members that require dental care
  • The location of the clinic
  • The availability of a pediatric dentist if you have children
  • Dental insurance coverage or available payment options

You should also check if they can provide care for people with special needs or disabilities. This can be helpful for any family member who requires specialized treatment.

Last updated on February 9, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 9, 2024
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.
  5. Gambhir RS. “Primary care in dentistry – an untapped potential.” J Family Med Prim Care, 2015.
  6. Mohan et al. “Impact of Pediatric Dentistry Residents Posted in Pediatrics Department: A Retrospective Assessment of 6 Years.” Int J Clin Pediatr Dent, 2021.
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