General dentistry is the type of dentistry that casts the widest net over the area of oral health. General dentists are primary care providers, like a family doctor.
Dentists are concerned with far more than just your teeth. They diagnose and treat issues with the mouth, teeth, and gums. This may include general problems related to the tongue and jaw.
However, when problems related to any of these areas become more advanced, your general dentist may refer you to an oral health specialist. Some types of dental specialty include orthodontics, periodontics, and cosmetic dentistry, to name just a few.
What does the term general dentistry encompass?
The primary goal of general dentistry is to prevent problems. General dentistry responsibilities include the following:
- Help prevent oral diseases
- Promote oral health
- Diagnose oral diseases
- Create plans to treat, maintain or restore their patients’ oral health
To help prevent oral diseases, dentists advise their patients about the correct way to brush and floss. They also conduct regular cleanings and exams and interpret x-rays. In addition, to promote oral health, they may also offer advice about gum care, diet or even lifestyle.
In addition, dentists diagnose and treat many oral health conditions. As many people know firsthand, dentists find and remove decay and fill cavities when needed. However, they also repair fractured teeth, do root canals and extractions, and monitor and treat gum health issues.
General Dentistry Education Requirements
The US educational and licensing requirements for dentists are very stringent. First, the would-be dentist must have at least three years of undergrad education.
Next, they must earn a degree from an accredited dental school. There are two degrees available from US dental schools. These are the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) and Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degrees. While the degrees use different words, they are functionally equal, according to the American Dental Association.
Learn more: Dental Degrees
To graduate dental school, dentists must pass the two-part National Board Dental Exam known as the NBDE I and II. In addition, to practice general dentistry in the US, dentists must also pass a licensing exam, apply to work in their state, and pass the state’s ethics exam.
Finally, general dentists must complete a number of Continuing Dental Education (CDE) courses each year. The number of courses varies by state.
Read next: Choosing a Dentist