There are many different types of dentists that specialize in a range of different services. In this blog, I will discuss what general dentists do.
What is a General Dentist?
General dentists are the most common type of dentist. In fact, according to the ADA, 79% of all dentists in the United States are considered general dentists. General dentists are typically trained to handle most dental procedures except extremely complicated dental procedures which require additional training, degrees, and certifications.
General dentists are on the front line of dentistry, serving the public in diagnosing and providing preventative procedures. We can also diagnose and treat diseases before they progress too far. General dentists partner with their patients to educate and help them improve their oral hygiene.
In the United States, dentists need to get quite a bit of education. The education process starts by obtaining a bachelor’s degree with specific undergraduate class prerequisites. The degree is not all that important as long as these prerequisite classes are taken.
Next, the graduate must take a multiple choice standardized test called DAT. DAT stands for Dental Admission Test. After the student has passed this test, they must attend dental school. Dental school has education requirements similar to that of medical school. Many people are not aware that dental students start studying their initial classes alongside medical students. Some of these classes include chemistry, mathematics, physiology, physics, and psychology.
Dental school is typically 4 years long. Classes in the first year are usually science classes that give the student a broad understanding of science. After the first year, students start teaching things general dentists do, including oral anatomy, oral histology, and oral pathology. As second year students, we begin practicing our skills on patients, starting with the most basic of services like oral health care and treatment. Second year students typically perform dental work on dental models made of wax or stone so that they can hone their skills. This training is crucial for future dentists so that they can train their hand-eye coordination and learn best practices.
In the last two years of dental school, typically students take electives and rotations in various specialties of dentistry. These include hospital and emergency settings, and clinical settings also. In these final two years, dental students learn where they want to practice and build their careers in.
Daily Life of a General Dentist
The typical day for a general dentist varies. However, my day typically starts with my team and I drinking coffee to wake up! My team then conducts a morning huddle at the front desk to discuss all the patients on the schedule and the services that need to be done. These services often include: General cleanings, digital x-rays, examinations, and dental treatment.
Once the day starts and patients start arriving, they sign in with my admin team. My hygienists update changes in our patient’s health histories, and take X-rays if they are needed. For a general cleaning, my hygienists will clean our patients’ teeth. After this is done, the dentists, including myself, will see each patient in the treatment room. After care is given, my front desk staff with submit the patient’s insurance online and schedule the patient’s next visit.
Some Treatments General Dentists Do
If you’re wondering what kind of treatments general dentists do, here is a list of some typical treatments:
- Teeth cleaning
- Digital X-Rays
- Digital Scans
- Dental fillings
- Dental Crowns
- Dental Veneers
- Porcelain Bridges
- Dental implants
- Teeth extractions
- Teeth Whitening
- Sealants to Prevent Decay
- Root Canals
- Dental Crowns
- Dental Fillings
- Some dentists are now offering BOTOX treatment
How Do I know I need a General Dentist?
If you need any of the above treatments, a general dentist is a good place to start. General dentists may need to refer you to a specialist if you have an issue that only a specialist can treat. There are many more types of dentists, such as Periodontists, Endodontists, Orthodontists, Oral Surgeons, Prosthodontists, and Pedodontists.
General Dentists Overview:
Hopefully you now understand more of what a general dentist does on a day to day basis, as well as the types of services they can treat. If you’re ever in the South Florida area, my dental office, South Gables Dental, would love to be able to treat your dental needs. Thank you for reading my post on what general dentists do.
About Lawrence Lesperance, DDS
Dr. Lesperance has enjoyed practicing dentistry since 1986. In November 2004, after practicing for 18 years in South Miami, Florida, he purchased South Gables Dental in Coral Gables, Florida. Dr. Lawrence, a dentist in Coral Gables, specializes in preventative dentistry, general dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry. Experience the South Gables Dental difference today!