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All dentists are general dentists, which means they’re general practitioners, rather than specialists in a particular field of dentistry. Some call themselves “family dentists” or “cosmetic dentists,” but each one has the same foundational training and licensure in general dentistry. A general dentist will have “DDS” (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or “DMD” (Doctor of Medical Dentistry) credentials behind their name on all licensing documents.

General dentists provide preventive – checkups, cleanings and basic x-rays - and restorative dental care – fillings, root canals, crowns, extractions, bridges, dentures, etc. Dental insurance covers many of these procedures, but there is typically a waiting period before restorative care coverage begins, cosmetic treatments are not covered, and spending is capped at $1000-$1500 annually. dental savings plans offer discounts on virtually all dental care, and do not have spending limits or delays on receiving discounts.

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Dental Educational Requirements

In order to become a general dentist, four years of dental school are required. While many dentists go into dental school with a 4-year degree already under their belt (usually in areas of study such as chemistry or biology,) it’s not required as long as their foundational science coursework requirements have been met.

After completing dental school, dentists must take written and clinical exams to show proficiency in certain areas of study, before becoming licensed and able to work in private practice.

Services Provided

General dentists receive a broad education that covers all oral health services. Some choose to go on and become experts in particular fields, while others offer a general range of treatments.

A general dentist can offer treatments like:

However, if a patient has a particularly challenging case or requires extra attention for a given situation, a general dentist will likely refer them to a specialist.

Although family dentists are trained to provide all services, they may not be equipped to offer everything once in practice. For example, comprehensive orthodontics may not be a service they want to provide, or they may only want to make an aligner-type system available to certain patients with limited tooth misalignment needs.

Work Setting

Typical general dentists work in a private practice setting, or as a partner with other family dentists. They cannot advertise themselves as experts or specialists, as they have a general dental degree.

Some dentists work at community dental clinics, in hospitals, or universities. Others volunteer their resources for charitable purposes in overseas clinics.

Who Can See a General Dentist?

Anyone, from infant to senior, can see a general (family) dentist. If you’re looking for a convenient dental practice for everyone in your household, this is the type of provider to choose! And to reduce the costs of dental care, consider joining a dental savings plans. You can save 10%-60% percent on virtually all of your dental care, from thousands of dentists nationwide. And you don’t have to worry about annual spending limits, delays before you qualify for discounts, paperwork or pre-approvals. Find out more at

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