General dentistry deals with the study of the mouth, teeth and related anatomy. The duties of a general dentist include diagnosing problems with the teeth, gums and mouth, treating any problems that are found, and also educating patients on the proper way to care for and maintain their teeth. Those who wish to practice general dentistry must attend at least seven years of medical school and earn either a Doctorate of Dental Surgery or a Doctorate of Dental Medicine.
A general dentist is the first person that most patients will see about problems with their teeth, gums or mouth. Through examination and diagnosis, the dentist may be able to treat the problem immediately or refer the patient to a specialist that can. Some procedures that a general dentist can perform include root canals, tooth extractions, application of veneers and filling of cavities. Because of their wide range of knowledge, a general dentist can draw upon any number of treatments when a patient is in need of care.
General dentists may wish to advance their training to specialize in a single area of dentistry, or to become qualified in more extensive techniques. Oral surgeons, pediatric dentists and orthodontists are examples of this extended training. A general dentist is also a strong advocate for education about oral hygiene and preventative medicine. Since they are the first dental professional that many people see, they are very enthusiastic about encouraging their patients to follow all of the latest guidelines and research to maintain a clean and healthy mouth.