I grew up in West Texas, and most anyone from there is aware of the unique mineral content of water. My town was specifically known as “The Town without a Toothache” because the excess of fluoride in the water resulted in a decreased incidence of tooth decay.
Coincidentally for me, my dentist would clean my teeth on Saturdays when his hygienist was on a break. As a result, a cleaning was about the extent of my dental visit, so my childhood perception of dentists is that they simply “cleaned teeth.”
The truth is my dentist was more than qualified in this aspect of my oral health. So, you may ask yourself what dental treatment should you expect from your family dentist, and to what extent is your dentist qualified to provide certain types of treatment? I raise these concerns because on January 21, 2016, a Texas Court ruled that dentists who don’t practice one of the nine specialties recognized by the ADA may still advertise as “specialists” in Texas if they meet certain conditions.
An example of this is the term “cosmetic dentist.” Even though most dental care in this age focuses on improving overall esthetics, no dental specialty is recognized by that specific title.
To be clear, a dental specialty recognized by the ADA is one that typically requires graduation from a post-graduate residency. Therefore, specialists are capable of treating advanced dental cases. On the other hand, dental specialties were born from general dental procedures, so your family dentist may provide some specialty services at the same standard of care, for example, implants, root canals, or treating children.
It may be advantageous to have your family dentist treat these situations to avoid higher fees or over-treatment almost in the same way you would not visit a cardiologist to take your blood pressure.
The best way to determine if you or your child requires specialized treatment is to visit your family dentist to determine if a specialist is recommended. Always have the conversation with your dentist to understand their level of education and comfort with specific procedures.
Maintaining a lasting relationship with your family dentist is invaluable in caring for your oral health and ensuring many happy smiles.