Frequently Asked Questions about General Dentists

Posted on: August 20, 2019

For those who have never visited one of the general dentists in town, there may be questions about the education or experience level they posses as compared to orthodontists, for example. The initials “DMD” and  “DDS” both indicate graduation from an accredited dental college. While DDS designates Doctor of Dental Surgery and DMD means Doctor of Dental Medicine, the terms denote essentially the same level of education. Both are considered as dentists and both are skilled in taking care of the majority of dental issues.

Questions people may have regarding dentists

Dentists must keep up with continued testing in order to remain licensed. If a person is still unsure about what services a general dentist offers to patients, a bit of study can help to explain what treatment a practice may offer. The following is a brief list of services dentists provide.

What may the first dentist visit include?

On the first visit, general dentists may conduct a thorough exam in order to have a baseline to refer to for future treatments. A panel of X-rays may be taken, exposing any previous fillings or root canals as well as showing problematic infected areas that may require treatment through dental procedures or antibiotics. A dentist may take care of any pressing needs and also offer a cleaning to help prevent future decay.

Can a general dentist perform oral surgery?

A dentist can perform certain kinds of oral surgery, including removal of wisdom teeth or deep root canals. The main difference between dentists and oral surgeons is that oral surgeons use a variety of sedation when performing the procedures, and a dentist will use local anesthesia but not the sedation.

What kinds of emergency situations can a dentist handle?

If a situation is severe, involving heavy bleeding or obviously cracked bone, the person should be taken to an oral surgeon or the emergency room. However, lesser injuries such as a knock to the teeth, chipping, cracking or dislodging can likely be handled at the dentist’s office. It would be best to call the dentist to get an opinion on whether an ER visit is necessary.

Can a general dentist install and adjust braces?

Dental X-rays are necessary to discover certain conditions. X-rays do produce low-level radiation that is considered safe enough to have bitewings taken once or twice a year. Modern safeguards include keeping patient exposure brief and the using lead aprons to protect vital organs.

How often should someone see a dentist?

If a patient is in the middle of an extensive procedure, such as a root canal or installation of a bridge, several visits may be needed to properly treat the situation. For the average person without specific problems, a dental checkup may only be necessary once or twice a year.


A person can feel confident about going to general dentists for treatment. Except for extreme situations, a dentist and trained staff can handle most dental conditions. Everything from X-rays and exams to pulling impacted wisdom teeth, filling cavities, cleanings and more may be done right in the dentist’s office.

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