What to Look For in a Family Dentist
Establishing a reliable family dentist can be one of the best investments a family makes into their ongoing healthcare. Someone who can look after the parents while also treating their youngest, then providing continuity of care as the children grow and everyone’s needs change, is invaluable.
Why Look For a Family Dentist?
First off, why even bother with a family dentist? Why not just see anybody?
The most important thing is continuity of care. It’s one of the reasons why you typically have the same GP for many years. It’s also one of the selling points private health insurance uses to lure people into their services — guaranteeing you can see the same specialist when you need them.
Why is continuity of care important?
- Save time on consults. As you spend more time with your dentist, the less they need to ask about your history and your health. They just need to know how things are different from last time, because they were there last time. When you switch dentists regularly, you need to give a full history each time.
- Early intervention. Someone who has seen your mouth a dozen times before is going to notice changes faster than someone who has only seen it once or twice (and even that’s better than someone seeing it for the first time). With regular check and cleans with the same dentist, you can tackle problems even earlier to prevent major complications.
- Long-term treatment plans. Childhood is a time of growth and change. A dental plan for a young person could span many years, from early interceptive orthodontic treatment, to full orthodontics, and finished off with restorations such as crowns and veneers. You can break this up across different specialists, but walking this journey with a single dentist ensures you’re receiving the same quality from beginning to end with no unpleasant surprises in the middle.
Services to Expect
A family dentist needs to be able to address the dental needs of a 3 year old just as much as the needs of a 13, 20, or 70 year old.
- Basic check and cleans. Any general practice will offer this, as it’s the cornerstone of most dental practices’ services.
- Orthodontics. Many teenagers need orthodontics as they grow up, and you don’t want to be running around to specialists if you don’t need to. A good family dentist will typically offer Invisalign and traditional braces these days.
- Crowns and veneers. For when teeth get chipped, cracked, or broken, you want to know your dentist will be able to fix it up and get your family’s smiles back into shape.
- Root canal therapy. When teeth become highly infected, root canals can be used to save them. This is one for the adults in the family.
- Wisdom teeth extractions. Most people will need their wisdom teeth removed at some point.
- Dentures. Being a family dentist isn’t just about treating mum, dad, and the kids — it’s about treating grandma, grandpa, mum, dad, and the kids. Full and partial dentures give people back their smiles in old age when teeth start to go missing.
- A convenient referral network. While you want your family dentist to offer orthodontics, restorations, and all sorts of treatments, some cases need a specialist. You want to make sure your dentist is going to be referring you to a reputable, experienced specialist for your needs.
- Emergency dentistry. Accidents happen — especially when you have children. A dentist who is able to handle dental emergencies the same day they arise can be invaluable to the long-term health of you and your family.
Who To Look For
The good thing about family dentists is they’ve often been working for a long time. It shouldn’t be hard to read some recommendations or experiences from other people in your community.
Ideally, you want someone who is not just a respected dentist, but one who has experience treating the whole family. A family dentist who prides themselves in providing longterm generational care to families across the community is exactly the sort of person you want to consider treating your family.