Just What is a Family Dentist, Anyway?
Looking for a Boise dentist for the whole family? Here’s what a family dentist can do to care for you and your loved ones through every stage of life.
Keyword(s): family dentist, Boise Dentist, boise dentists, dentist boise idaho
One kid has teeth coming in. Another needs braces. Your spouse needs a cavity filled. And you just need your teeth cleaned. Sound familiar?
For many families, a visit to the dentist often means a laundry list of concerns. If you’re rattling between a general dentist and a bevy of specialists, finding someone who can do it all feels harder than pulling teeth…pun intended. But it doesn’t have to.
The right family dentist can tend to your family’s dental needs throughout your entire lives as a partner in your overall health. Here’s what a family dentist is, what they do, why a family dentist is the best choice among Boise dentists, and how to find your own.
What is a Family Dentist?
A family dentist is your primary care physician for your teeth and gums. But as the name implies, family dentists don’t specialize in treating just adults or just kids.
Instead, they offer dental care for your entire family, from kids visiting the dentist for the very first time to your elderly grandmother.
Family Dentist Compared to Other Dentists
A family dentist is an answer to a longstanding problem for families: how to get great dental care without using three different doctors for the same family unit. And while other dental specialties have their benefits, if you need a dentist to take care of the whole family with the same level of quality, there’s no better choice than a family dentist.
Family vs. General Dentist: What’s the Difference?
According to the American Dental Association, most dentists in North America practice general dentistry. Because general dentists can treat most dental concerns for the whole family, they’re often confused with family dentists.
The difference lies in specialty.
A general dentist, as the name implies, is a jack of all trades. They can do a little bit of everything and can cover most general dental services like cleanings and check-ups. If you need specialist work, they have to refer you to a specialist.
A family dentist, on the other hand, offers a collection of specialized services under one dental practice. The services vary depending on the dentist in question, but you can expect to find a much deeper range of services than you would find with a general dentist.
Why Choose a Family Dentist Over a General Dentist?
Both family dentists and general dentists are quite versatile, which is why they’re so popular. Why go to one dentist for a cleaning and another dentist for a separate service when you could get them all done in one place? For patients and dentists alike, broad offerings are more appealing and more economical.
This is the same appeal at the heart of family dentistry–and why family dentistry is often the better choice for families.
The appeal of a general dentist lies in their ability to offer several different general services. However, if you need a specialist, you have to go elsewhere. Family dentists, on the other hand, offer a variety of specialized services as well as general dentistry.
This offers families the same continuity of care they value in a general dentist without sacrificing the need for specialized dental care. Instead of bouncing between appointments at multiple dentist offices, you can get a dentist you already trust to deliver great care in one fell swoop.
Why Choose a Family Dentist Over a Specialist?
As the old adage goes, jack of all trades is master of none. So the question then becomes: why opt for a family dentist over a specialist?
The answer, again, lies in continuity of care.
A specialist and a family dentist have the same level of training to offer the same quality of care. But a specialized dentist is in many ways like a highly specialized surgeon–they work on problems, not people. Once a dental problem has been fixed, they move on to the next one.
This means it’s easier for a specialist to think of problems in a vacuum from a patient. It can also make it much harder to establish a relationship of trust and communication with a specialist that you need to receive the right care.
A family dentist offers the same specialized care, but with continuity. They don’t see you once there’s a problem and treat the problem–they see the whole picture and they know you as a person, which means they can treat you holistically as part of a broader approach to your dental health.
And at the end of the day, if you have a choice between a mechanic and a trusted partner, why would you turn to anyone but a family dentist?
Services a Family Dentist Offers
The point of family dentistry is to answer to almost every dental need a family might require. And unlike general dentists, family dentists include various specialized care options under that umbrella.
The type of specialized care depends on the dental practice in question and how much training the dentist has. Most family dentists offer at least the following basic treatment options.
Most of the time, dental care is about the little things. It’s about everyday care to maintain the health of your teeth and gums so that you don’t need big fixes down the line. That’s why regular dental cleanings are always the baseline for any family dental practice.
Regular six-month cleanings help catch issues like gingivitis and gum disease before they can fester. Whether you have a young child or a senior citizen, preventing plaque buildup and identifying other dental issues is the most important preventative measure a family dentist can provide.
Fluoride Treatments, Dental Sealants, and Cavity Fillings
Unfortunately, sometimes cavities happen, whether that’s due to poor hygiene habits or a patient who’s prone to cavities. Family dentists can help identify and combat cavities, maintaining your oral health over the course of your life.
This includes a variety of treatments. Fluoride treatments and dental sealants are both important cavity prevention options, especially for cavity-prone patients. And in cases where tooth decay needs a more serious correction, most family dentists offer cavity fillings in tandem with other hygiene options to keep your teeth strong and healthy.
When you think of orthodontics, chances are you think of teenagers getting braces to get a Hollywood smile. But the truth is that orthodontics services are an incredibly important element of dental health.
At the end of the day, a straight smile is a healthy smile. In dentistry, the way your teeth come together is called your bite. When your teeth are straight and aligned, this allows your jaw to function optimally.
For example, if your teeth are misaligned, a few individual teeth end up bearing the force of your bite instead of distributing that force across several teeth or your whole mouth. This makes it much harder to chew and it wears out those teeth over time, creating issues ranging from jaw pain to cracked and worn-out teeth.
Your teeth also serve a similar function to your jaw structure as bricks in a wall–they help your jaw keep the right shape over time. If your teeth are out of alignment, your jaw will shift to accommodate them, creating bigger problems in the long run.
Not all family dentists offer orthodontics, but our team at Boise Family Dental Care does, and we work hard to make great orthodontic care accessible and affordable for all of our valued families. To us, it’s just one more way that we offer your family high-quality dental care through every stage of life.
Gum Disease Treatment
Your teeth aren’t the only part of your mouth that needs to stay healthy! If anything, your gums are just as important in dental health as your teeth–but they’re often overlooked. This is when problems like gum disease (an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place) arise, usually as a result of poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque buildup.
Unfortunately, gum disease is incredibly common. In fact, half of all adults age 30 and older suffer from some form of gum disease. This comes from an unhappy marriage of two facts: one, our mouths are naturally full of bacteria and thus highly vulnerable to infection, and two, many people have poor hygiene habits that exacerbate the problem.
While the American Dental Association recommends flossing once per day, only 30% of Americans say they floss daily–and 32% of Americans say they never floss at all, with another 37% of Americans falling somewhere in between.
We know that it can be a challenge to take care of your gums. That’s why gum disease treatment is part of our core offerings.
What a Family Dentist Does at Every Stage of Life
A family dentist is more than just the dentist who treats your kids. They treat every member of the family and can continue to do so throughout their lives. What that means throughout your life changes with you.
It all begins with that very first dentist appointment, and this is the area where family dentists can take the first step toward lifelong dental health.
Pediatric dentistry addresses dental health issues for children ranging from infancy to teen years. The best family dentists know how to treat dental concerns looking into the future.
For infants and toddlers, that means getting their first teeth, helping parents learn how to clean their child’s primary teeth and gums, and spotting any dental problems early on. But most of all, a family dentist is a parent’s partner in establishing good oral health habits and a positive feeling associated with going to the dentist.
As children grow into pre-teens and start getting their adult teeth, a family dentist helps set up the child for healthy development as an adult. For many middle school-age kids, this means braces. And while kids often dread the idea of getting braces or getting their braces cleaned, the right family dentist can make this a pleasant, even enjoyable experience.
That care continues into the teenage years. At this stage, a family dentist can work with families to ensure their child’s teeth are on the right track. Depending on when the child’s wisdom teeth come in, that can also include scheduling wisdom tooth removal.
Dr. Crump handles most wisdom teeth removal in our office for the child’s comfort, but complicated cases may be referred to an oral surgeon.
While your tooth development and many of your major dental changes take place as a child, dental health does not end when you reach adulthood. As a family dental practice, we find that good dental health among parents sets a positive example for children (on top of being good for the parents’ health!)
Once you have your adult teeth and have finished with orthodontia, much adult dental work is about maintaining good health. That means regular cleanings and cavity treatment. Sometimes life throws you a curveball, though, and when that happens, your family dentist is there to support you.
Maybe you get in an accident and crack a tooth. In that case, your family dentist can fit you for crowns or veneers. They can also handle emergency situations like having a tooth knocked out, a major tooth infection, or a toothache that just won’t leave you alone. Our office even handles procedures like dental implants or bridges.
Plus, your smile is an expression of you, and putting out the best smile can boost your confidence. That’s why a family dentist continues to work with adult patients to ensure they have the best version of their smile, which can mean anything from cosmetic whitening to orthodontics for adults.
By the time you reach old age, your teeth have lived a whole life with you. Your family dentist’s job is to ensure your golden years are lived to your fullest potential–especially when it comes to your dental health.
Family dentists are a wonderful choice for seniors because they know how to adapt to your evolving dental needs. Whether your teeth are as hale and healthy as they were 30 years ago or if you need a bit of support with full or partial dentures, crowns, or even dental implants, your family dentist is your best asset for healthy aging.
Choosing the Right Boise Dentists for the Whole Family
You know you need a great family dentist. The question is: how do you find one?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect family dentist in Boise.
Consider Your Current and Future Dental Needs
First and foremost, think about your family’s current dental needs and the dental care you think you’ll need in the future.
If you’re a young family, for example, you may be concerned right now with early pediatric care for primary teeth. But as your kids grow up, they may need braces. In that case, it’s beneficial to find a family dentist you already know you trust.
Keep in mind, however, that the dental needs of the adults in the house are just as important. If you know you’re prone to cavities, look for a dentist with good reviews on that front. Or, if you’re living with an elderly parent or relative, look for a dentist who has experience offering care to elder patients as well.
As much as possible, try to balance the dental needs of the whole family. We know how busy parenting can be, and there’s no reason to make your life harder when you could schedule the whole family for appointments in the same dental practice. Plus, seeing their parents with the dentist can help kids feel more comfortable during their visits.
Keep in mind that not all dentists perform all dental procedures. Some focus on dental implants while others focus on cosmetic dentistry. Some dentists offer specialized services but don’t handle complex cases, while others take those complex cases in stride. Pay careful attention to what each practice offers relative to what you need, and don’t be shy about asking questions.
Convenient Location and Hours
As a family, you spend a lot of time balancing conflicting needs. One kid has soccer practice. Another has dance. Or maybe it’s art club this week? Never mind the many commitments and responsibilities of the parents.
So when you’re looking for a family dentist, you need someone who can work with you.
At a minimum, that means finding a dentist with hours that work for you. Think of it this way: if your job resembles a zoo on a good day, you’re probably not going to be able to zip out of work in the middle of the day and pick up your child from school to run to the dentist. Look for a dentist with availability that matches yours.
Similarly, look for a dentist with a convenient location. Convenient hours don’t do much good if you have to go over a river and through the woods for an hour to reach your appointment.
Get Recommendations from Friends and Family
Between services and convenience, you already have a long list of must-haves. A good way to narrow your candidate pool is to lean on the people you trust. Chances are, you know someone who relies on a family dentist, and chances are they’ll be more than willing to tell you about them.
If anything, recommendations from friends and family are the best place to start. Your loved ones are the people you can count on to tell it like it is, so they can tell you more about the quirks of a given dentist than you’ll discover on any website or online review.
Read Online Reviews
Of course, if you don’t have recommendations from loved ones, you can turn to the next best thing: online reviews.
Certifications and training are one thing, but a positive patient experience speaks for itself–especially on the Internet. If a dentist provides a truly phenomenal experience to their patients, those patients will be more than willing to say as much. Conversely, if a dentist doesn’t have happy patients, that will show through in negative reviews (or no reviews at all).
Does It Feel Right?
Last but not least, you need to ask yourself one essential question: does it feel right?
Your family dentist will provide dental care for your whole life. But regardless of qualifications or experience, you’ll always have a better dental care experience from a doctor you trust, someone you feel comfortable with, someone you know will listen when you mention a problem.
If you visit an office or speak on the phone with someone, think about how it feels. Are the staff attentive, welcoming, and helpful? Is the office comfortable? Does the whole experience put you at ease? How does it feel to interact with the hygienists and the dentist?
We know that dental care can be scary for a lot of people, but we also know it shouldn’t be. Your dentist is an important partner in maintaining your health, and it’s essential to find someone you feel comfortable with.
The Boise Dentist for the Whole Family
We know that finding the right family dentist can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. We also know it shouldn’t have to.
At Boise Family Dental Care, we’re proud to help families through every stage of their lives, whether that’s your first dental visit or your most recent check up in a lifetime of visits. No matter what your family needs, our job is to help you thrive.
Check out our services to find out what we can do to support your family. If you’re ready for dental care you can count on, click here to request an appointment, or reach out to our team with any questions you may have.