Skip to main content

Real Answers to General Dentistry Questions

women in dental chair smiling
Young blonde woman is sitting in dentist’s chair.

Regardless of your background, age, or the state of your oral health, properly caring for your teeth is important. As we learn more and more about the body and teeth, evidence shows that oral care plays an enormous role in overall health. Problems with your gums and teeth can lead to very serious health problems. Access to affordable, professional, and caring dental treatment is important.

Unfortunately, up to 100 million people in the U.S. haven’t visited a dentist in the last year. For something as important as your oral health, that’s a concerning number. That said, if you number yourself among those individuals, visiting a dentist can be a little intimidating. To help ease your mind and answer any questions you might have, we’ve put together this guide about general dentistry and dentistry as a whole.

What is a General Dentist?

A general dentist is your first point of care for your teeth, gums, and mouth. They diagnose, treat and manage the overall health of your teeth and gums. They also focus on treatment and education to help you take the best care possible for your teeth. A general dentist, like a specialist, is a Medical Doctor.

What Procedures Do General Dentists Perform?

A general dentist performs a wide variety of care for your teeth and mouth, the biggest of which is prevention. Scheduling routine checkups with a general dentist help you stay on top of your oral health and may prevent serious issues that could creep up.

These visits not only benefit your overall oral health but also help you maintain your teeth on your own too. Regular visits to a general dentist ensure that you’ll have access to regular and valuable information that you can put into practice when you’re away from the dentist.

Prevention aside, there are numerous ways a general dentist can help care for your mouth and teeth, which includes:

Is General Dentistry a Specialty?

There are numerous specialists in the dental profession, and this fact makes it a little difficult to define general dentistry. In short, a general dentist is one who has a Doctorate of Medical Dentistry and not pursued further, specialist education. Although, a specialized dentist can also offer general dentistry procedures.

While general dentistry isn’t a specialist by definition, their jobs are no less easy than those of a specialist. In fact, most general dentist offices cover far more than a specialist does. Regular check-ups and cleanings, diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases, and more are all part of a general dentist’s repertoire.

What is A Dental Specialist?

A general dentist treats most teeth and oral health problems with a healthy dose of prevention. A specialist, on the other hand, focuses on one specific area of dentistry. Often times a general dentist will refer you to a specialist when a problem is better suited for a professional specifically trained for a particular procedure.

There are several types of dental specialists, including:

  • Orthodontists who specialize in dental structure and typically work on braces, crooked teeth, and jawbones
  • Pediatric dentists who work with children and has special training in how children’s teeth form
  • Periodontists who specialize in more advanced or severe gum diseases
  • Oral surgeons who perform surgeries on parts of the mouth, including teeth, gums, tongue, cheeks, and other tissues
  • Prosthodontists who specialize in advanced dental implants, dentures, and bridges

A general dentist will refer you to one of these specialists if your situation requires more advanced work.

Why See A General Dentist?

Visiting a general dentist is a bit like visiting a primary care doctor—they’re your go-to for any kind of dental work that doesn’t require specialist care. You can also call them if you have any general dentistry questions. They can either tell you how they can help or refer you to a specialist.

Also, like your primary care doctor’s office, a general dentistry office often has emergency care in case of a dental incident outside of normal hours. An emergency situation may include a chipped tooth or an abscess in your gums. These can be serious and painful issues that require immediate care that a specialist usually doesn’t provide. However, a cosmetic dentist can restore a chipped tooth to look new.


The best reason to see a general dentist is prevention. A general dentist helps you maintain the health of your teeth, mouth, and gums. This goes a long way in preventing further problems like gum disease and other serious oral issues. If you catch problems early enough by visiting your dentist regularly, you can often prevent visiting a specialist altogether, unless you have a cosmetic reason like gum whitening or gum contouring.

What should I Look for When Choosing a General Dentist?

The most important factor in choosing a general dentist is finding one you’re comfortable with. Look for dental offices that have an emphasis on professionalism, courteousness, cleanliness, and a sense of care. Beyond that, you want to make sure your dentist has the proper credentials, has a good reputation, and is open during hours that work best for you. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to see if the dentist you like is within your network.

General Dentistry in Chevy Chase, Maryland For You

Regardless of who you are, general dentistry is the perfect way to keep your teeth and gums healthy, take preventative measures and ensure a beautiful and lasting smile. Visiting a general dentist is the best step to take for your oral health.

If you’re looking for great general dentistry in the Chevy Chase, Maryland area, the professional and kind team at Rinaldi Dental Arts is ready to take care of all your oral health needs. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

women in dental chair smiling