How to know when you need a specialist vs. a general dentist

Dental care can involve a multitude of procedures, ranging from the straightforward, such as cleanings and exams, to complex reconstructive surgeries. Because they require varying levels of skill and knowledge, the numerous aspects of dental care may be handled by different professionals. In some cases, a general dentist can handle the job, while in other situations, a specialist must be consulted.

All dentists, including general dentists, complete four years of dental school after earning their undergraduate degrees. In dental school, students learn how to perform a variety of procedures, including root canals, restorations, such as crowns and bridges, and treat certain conditions such as tooth decay and gingivitis. In fact, dental students must demonstrate expertise in these facets of care by performing a specified number of them in the university’s dental clinic.

General dentists often choose to start their careers immediately after dental school, while others seek further education in certain specialty areas. Dentists who intend to practice in disciplines such as orthodontics, periodontics, oral surgery and endodontics, among others, must complete post-graduate residency training prior to treating patients.

Everyone should have a “dental home” with a general dentist, who can be the oral health equivalent of a primary care physician. The general dentist can manage most of your oral health concerns. However, a need for more advanced levels of care, such as straightening the teeth with braces or removing the wisdom teeth, may require a specialist.

Your general dentist will know what care is beyond his or her level of expertise, and when specialty care is necessary, you can—and should—ask your dentist for specialist recommendations. General dentists are often familiar with the capabilities through participation in the local chapter of the American Dental Association or other professional organizations.

Regardless of whether you need a general dentist or a specialty practitioner, you can find the best DFW dentists by clicking on this link, which allows you to research a variety of dentists in one convenient location.