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Choosing a Pro: General Dentistry, Cosmetic Specialists, and Family Practices

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Choosing a dentist is a point and pick (or, more likely, click) activity. You're not sure if general dentistry is for you. Maybe you need a cosmetic dentist or a family practice instead. You always assumed that a "dentist" was a dentist. Now that you're starting your search, you've realized that you have options. While that might seem confusing, it's actually a good thing. Having choices means that you can find the pro who matches your specific needs. Before jumping into the selection process, check out some of the different kinds of dental practices that you might want to visit.

General Dentists

General dentistry is what it sounds like – a "general" practitioner. These dental pros are what you may think of as a dentist. They can evaluate your teeth (and mouth), diagnose issues or problems (such as cavities), treat dental problems, and provide preventative services (such as cleanings and fluoride treatments). A general dentist has completed an advanced degree in dental medicine and is licensed to practice in your state. Some general dentists also specialize in focused areas, such as pediatrics or geriatrics. This requires additional education, training, and possibly certification.

Cosmetic Dentists

Cosmetic dentistry deals with aesthetics or the look of your teeth and mouth. Typically, you wouldn't see one of these dental doctors for general cleanings or to fill a simple cavity.  These professionals have specialized training in diagnosing and treating issues that can enhance your appearance. Procedures that cosmetic dentists can do include providing patients with dental implants, dentures, bridges, veneers, and whitening. Both adults and children may see cosmetic dentists, depending on the dental issue.

Family Dentists

Like general dentistry, family dentistry deals with evaluating, diagnosing, and treating dental issues. While some general dentists may only see adult patients, family practices take both children and adults. This makes a family practice perfect for adults who want to have their children see the same dentist that they do.

Along with general, cosmetic, and family dentists you'll find specialists who work in areas such as pediatrics or oral surgery. When you're picking a dental professional, take a look at what you need and how the dentist can meet your requirements. If you don't have any major issues, and you don't have family members who you want to see the same pro, a general dentist may be the way to go. But, if you have kids you may want to go with a practice that lets you keep the whole gang together. Likewise, if your needs go beyond what a general practice can offer, you'll want to investigate the specialist (such as a cosmetic dentist) who can provide the care you need.