What Is the Difference Between Family Dentistry and General Dentistry?

If you’re looking for a new dentist, you might be curious about the different types of dentists and which one might be best for you. In this blog, we’re going to talk about family dentistry and general dentistry, as well as who exactly should go to a family dentist.

Let’s get started.

What is the difference between family dentistry and general dentistry?

At our dental clinic, we get lots of questions about dentistry for different ages:

…And the list goes on. To help you out, here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of dentists and what they (we) can do for you if you come in for an appointment.

General Dentistry in a Nutshell

For many adults, general dentists are a great option. You can get a thorough dental exam and get treated for any issues spotted in the process, such as cavities. General dentistry also includes:

However, general dentists don’t necessarily have a lot of experience working with kids. If you are a parent, it is worth it to consider family dentistry.

Family Dentistry in a Nutshell

You might have guessed by our name, Summit Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, that we are family dentists–and you’d be correct! What is family dentistry exactly? Let’s discuss.

What is family dentistry?

Simply put, family dentistry means that we can help every member of your family, from your 6-month-old and your teen to your spouse. The nice thing about family dentists is that you don’t have to seek out a different dental office for the different people in your household.

Instead, you can travel to a single location when it comes time for biannual dental cleanings to make sure everyone’s dental needs are met.

Benefits of Family Dentists

Dentists specializing in family dentistry offer everything general dentists do, but we are more familiar with working with children and recognizing their dental issues.

Here are some other benefits of family dentists:

  • The same dentist will stay with your kids as they grow. That means that your children don’t have to switch from dentist to dentist as they get older. Instead, they can stay with the same trusted dentist they’ve had since the beginning.
  • You can keep track of your family’s dental history. If you ever need your family’s dental records, trying to figure out what is where can take endless amounts of time if everyone sees a different dentist. By working with a family dentist, you can get all the records in one spot, saving you time.
  • We know how to handle dental anxiety in kids. Going to the dentist might not be your children’s favorite activity, but we want to make it one of them by showing them that the dentist is not scary but helpful and fun. We’ll provide tips to help them feel at ease at the dentist and make sure to answer any questions that you or they have.

Types of Dental Services

Family dentists, such as ourselves, offer a variety of dental services. These include but are not limited to:

  • Teeth Cleanings and Exams: Every six months, it’s important to schedule a cleaning to ensure you’re safe from plaque, tartar, cavities, gingivitis, and other dental health issues. Here at Summit Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we take great care to ensure the cleanings are comfortable and easy breezy for everyone in the household, including the youngsters.
  • Fillings: Has your child been complaining of tooth pain? Not to worry! We’ll look for signs of cavities and help treat them with a filling so that your child’s teeth are no longer bothering them.
  • Cavity Prevention (Fluoride Treatments, Sealants, etc.): Fluoride treatments and sealants are two of the best ways to prevent cavities. Not only do we provide both services, but we also provide them with a smile on our faces while we’re at it. (The patient experience is just as important to us as the services rendered. We want to make sure that every experience you have here at Summit Family and Cosmetic Dentistry is a great one!)
  • And More: That means cosmetic dentistry (teeth whitening, veneers, Invisalign, etc.), general dentistry (extractions, root canals, etc.), and restorative dentistry (dental implants, dental bridges and crowns, same-day crowns, removable dentures, etc.).

Difference Between a Family Dentist and a Pediatric Dentist

Family dentists provide dental services to all ages. Pediatric dentists, however, specialize in working with kids. Often, the practice is devoted solely to children’s dental care. Pediatric dentists also attend a two-year residency program after completing dental school.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, in this program, “The trainee learns advanced diagnostic and surgical procedures, along with child psychology and clinical management, oral pathology, child-related pharmacology, radiology, child development, management of oral/facial trauma, care for patients with special needs, conscious sedation, and general anesthesia.”

Family dentistry is for the whole family.

A family dental office is a one-stop shop for the entire family. That means that different family members don’t have to go to different dental offices to get the proper care. Your 2-year-old, teen, and spouse can all go to the same location, which can save you time if you’re planning to schedule dental appointments for the family in a single day.

Pediatric dental offices are usually limited to just the little ones. However, parents are welcome to join their kids and schedule dental services on the same day (or as the schedule allows) and at the same location when you come to a family dentist, such as your local Summit Family and Cosmetic Dentistry here in Spokane.


If you’re a parent and trying to navigate between all the options for dentists in your area, we understand it can be a little overwhelming. To save yourself the hassle of going from dentist to dentist for every member of your family, consider family dentistry.

Family dentists provide all the dental services you need, from exams and cleanings to fillings. The big difference is that we are also experienced in working with kids, giving you peace of mind that your kiddos are getting the quality care they deserve and feel most comfortable at the dentist. 

Interested in scheduling dental visits for the whole family? Summit Family and Cosmetic Dentistry is here to help. Request an appointment today.