Family Dentistry

Evidence Based
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What is Family Dentistry?

Family dentists provide dental care for an individual from infancy through adulthood, if chosen to do so by the patient. This allows the dentist to keep a detailed record of the patient’s dental care history and needs. In addition, an entire family can visit the same dentist, which saves time and results in more personalized care.

Starting visits to a family dentist young is important for a child’s oral health. These dentists also help them maintain proper patterns of tooth care into adulthood.

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

Family Dentistry vs General Dentistry

General dentists are the leading providers of oral health care, making up 80 percent of the dentist population. While some general dentists treat people of all ages, they are often more restrictive in terms of the age groups they treat. Family dentists, on the other hand, specialize in treating entire families. For example, they can track how a baby’s oral care needs change as they become an adult.

Family Dentistry vs Pediatric Dentistry

General dentists may treat younger children who do not require treatment for oral diseases, such as basic dental cleanings. For more serious procedures, children often visit a pediatric dentist, who only specializes in dental care for children under 18 years of age.

For parents who prefer to visit the same dentist with their children, family dentistry is the ideal option.


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

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Dental Care — Life Stages

Babies

Before and during a baby’s primary dentition phase (baby teeth), they are susceptible to oral diseases, especially cavities and tooth decay. After the first tooth erupts at 6 months old, it is recommended to regularly start visiting a family dentist. Starting oral care early, both at home and professionally, ensures a baby develops good habits as they age.

Early Childhood

Children require specialized dental care as they naturally lose teeth (baby teeth) and permanent teeth start to grow in. During this transitional phase, it’s crucial to establish at-home dental care habits and get routine teeth cleanings. This helps prevent cavities, tooth decay, and the early onset of other serious dental conditions.

Teens and Young Adults

Many family dentists specialize in orthodontics. For teenagers, braces or Invisalign usually come into play to straighten and reposition permanent teeth. Teens are also susceptible to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease depending on a patient’s diet, lifestyle, and childhood habits.

Adults

As adults with busy schedules, it’s often easy to skip routine dental appointments. Although, oral care is just as important for adults as it is for growing children. After age 35, patients are more at risk of losing teeth to tooth decay or periodontal disease. Oral cancer, the breakdown of cavity fillings, and TMJ problems are also common in adults.

Seniors (65+)

After the age of 65, new oral challenges are introduced as the body continues to age. For example, common conditions may include dry mouth, attrition, oral cancer, root decay, and serious gum diseases. Maintaining a healthy mouth by sticking to lifelong dental care habits can help reduce the risk of serious oral conditions.


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Resources

Syrbu, John DDS. The Complete Pre-Dental Guide to Modern Dentistry. 2013.

Nowak, Arthur J. Pediatric Dentistry: Infancy through Adolescence. Elsevier, 2019.

Updated on: August 17, 2020
Author
Alyssa Hill
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Medically Reviewed: October 15, 2019
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Lara Coseo
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