You’ve seen a lot of dental clinics as you move around your city. From billboards to online advertisements and signage along your route, dentists want you to know how to find them when you need them. But, while some dental clinics include specialties in their business name or tagline, others don’t go out of their way to build awareness of their specialty. Some clinics include their niche in their name, as seen often with ‘sedation dentistry’, which is mostly self-explanatory, but what about family dentists? Can anyone go to a family dentist? We’re happy to answer your questions about the differences between general and family dentists.
What is a Family Dentist?
General dentists and family dentists vary more in the market that they offer services to than in their skill and education. General dentists and family dentists are both qualified to perform services within their scope of practice, regardless of the age of the patient. Some small children will see a pediatric dentist until their late teens, while others see a general dentist or family practice. The real differences between a general dentist and a family dentist comes down to the patient’s experience and the philosophy that the clinic employs. An example might be a general dentist priding themselves on tight timelines while a family dentist is less concerned about appointment duration and puts their focus, instead, on client experience.
What Kind of Procedures Does a Family Dentist Offer?
In Canada, general and family dentists have a large scope of practice that includes prevention and treatment of oral disease. Dentists are qualified to assess and diagnose oral conditions in the mouth, not just the teeth.
Oral cancer detection is within scope of practice and includes detection in any related soft tissues of the mouth, including cheeks, gums, palate, tongue and lymph nodes of the head. Both of these dentists can make suggestions as to how to treat diagnosed concerns such as decay, cysts or cancers. Your dentist can read X-rays, perform restorative procedures and assist with educating their clients about caring for their teeth, gums and other soft tissues. Both of these dentists can perform emergency procedures, write oral health-related prescriptions such as sedatives and provide appliances with the assistance of a dental laboratory. If there are medical or circumstantial contraindications for treatment in a clinic, your dentist can refer you to a dental specialist who can address your needs.
If you have not sustained an injury, you won’t likely see any bleeding from the mouth, but you may be feeling pain. Generally, if your toothache doesn’t respond to over-the-counter painkillers it is time to get in to see a dentist for an emergency appointment. If you have an infection, signs other than pain may include swelling in the mouth, painful opening and closing of the mouth and a bitter or metallic taste coming from the site of the pain. If you have an abscess, you may see what looks like a white or yellow pimple on the gums. This should not be popped if it has not already burst on its own. If there is no evidence of a pimple, you may still have an infection that needs to be handled promptly.
Call your dentist’s office and request to be seen for an emergency appointment. We always leave appointment times available throughout the day to accommodate emergencies, but if we are unable to assist you due to demand, call another clinic and request to be seen. Do not delay being seen as tooth infections can be serious.Hold an ice pack to the outside of the cheek and never use hot compresses on an infection as it will increase the level of pain you are experiencing.
So, What Are the Benefits of a Family Dentist?
Your family dentist operates with a philosophy of long-term continuity of care for each member of your family, regardless of their age. They take the time to get to know your family, and place special emphasis upon offering their patients, particularly children, the best possible experience every time. Not only does this benefit the child, but it offers an opportunity to develop rapport and trust with their clients which facilitates the relationship over the long-term. Taking children to the dentist can be difficult for both the parents or caregivers of a child and the child themselves, but your family dentist’s team is here to help. Along this line of thinking, you will find your dentist and their staff have a particularly calm demeanor and friendly approach in their family practice. This is another way that family practices take the pressure off parents to calm a distraught child. Not only are the dental staff selected for their qualifications, but for their ability to work comfortably with children. Since family dentists see so many small children, their staff are likely to have a larger repertoire of skills for dealing with their needs. Their goal is to see a smile on your little one’s face when the appointment concludes.
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If you are considering switching to a family dental practice, we encourage you to have your children seen as soon as possible. This allows your child to become familiar with the office and allows them to start a trust-based relationship with their dentist as soon as possible. Delaying a child’s visit for too long could mean that by the time you get them to the dentist, procedures could be required. Don’t let your child’s first visit to the dentist be for a procedure if you can help it. If possible, schedule a clinic tour and an annual checkup and cleaning to offer a gentle introduction to your child’s new dentist.
Family dentists make their schedule fit more closely with the needs of your family by offering longer appointments, evening appointments and even group appointments! You’ll find our clinic appealing to children with fun décor, fun staff and a number of options to keep little ones entertained while reclined in the dental chair! A family dental practice makes maintaining your family’s oral health easier to achieve.
If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today!