By definition, dentistry is the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the body’s oral and maxillofacial region (ADA, American Dental Association).
The most common dental care providers are general dentists, who make up about 80 percent of practitioners. The other 20 percent consists of dental specialists, including:
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery
- Pediatric dentistry
- Dental public health
- Oral and maxillofacial pathology
80 percent of dental practitioners are general dentists
20 percent of dental practitioners are dental specialists.
General dentists offer preventive and restorative services, such as x-rays, teeth cleanings, cavity fillings, and sealants. Unlike specialists, who focus on one specific area of dentistry, general dentists offer a wide range of treatments and procedures. They also treat patients of all ages.
Dental specialists, such as endodontists, are highly skilled at performing and treating tooth pain, specifically root canals. Some patients visit a general dentist to receive a root canal, while others may see an endodontist if their situation requires specialized root canal treatment.
Dentistry is a “hands-on” practice. The profession requires four years of highly accredited education after completing a bachelor’s degree. This intensive education allows general dentists to gain dexterity, skills in performing tasks with their hands, as well as in-depth scientific knowledge about the field.
General dentists also specialize in specific types of procedures based on their individual skills and current needs of patients.
General Dentistry Treatments
Many general dentists use a combination of specialized care, including oral surgery, restorative services, and basic dental care treatments. Common general dentistry treatments include:
- Dental exams and teeth cleanings
- Cavity fillings
- Root canal treatment
- Sleep apnea treatment
- Gingivitis treatment
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) treatment
- Oral cancer screenings
- Tooth sealants
- Fluoride treatment
- Cosmetic dentistry procedures
- Minor oral surgeries, such as wisdom tooth removal and tooth extractions
Types of General Dentistry Procedures
When visiting a general dentist, whether you are going in for a routine dental exam or a minor oral surgery, there are many options to choose from.
Services offered by general dentists include restorative services, preventive treatments, oral surgery, and cosmetic dentistry: