A family dentistry practice is designed to serve patients of all ages, from small children to senior citizens. Similar to general dentistry, family dentistry is primarily preventive in scope and focuses on maintaining the patient's oral hygiene and tooth health.
Patients of all ages require slightly different dental care. For example, the primary concern with young children is to help them develop strong oral hygiene habits and to protect their young teeth with fluoride treatments and sealants. For senior patients, however, reconstructive and tooth replacement options such as dental bridges, dentures, and dental implants may be of primary importance. Adult patients may need more restorative dental procedures, such as dental crowns, to repair damaged teeth. A family dentist is trained in the areas of general, preventive, and restorative dentistry, but may also have pursued additional training in cosmetic dentistry.
Because family dentistry practices are designed to provide general, convenient care to family members of all ages, patients may need to seek specialized care for some issues. For example, if a family doctor finds signs of gum disease, he or she may refer that patient to a periodontist. Likewise, if a teenage patient wishes to straighten his or her teeth, he or she will be referred to an orthodontist.
A strong oral hygiene routine is essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums for patients of all ages. Accredited dental associations recommend that patients over the age of three visit a general or family dentist every six months for a thorough examination and professional cleaning.