General Dentists vs. Specialists: What's the Difference?

General Dentists vs. Specialists: What's the Difference?

Sep 01, 2022

When faced with a dental issue, you might be confused about what to do. Do you consult your general dentist or see a specialist? The answer depends on your condition and symptoms. In general, it’s always best to consult a general dentist first. They will guide you to the appropriate dental specialist if your condition is beyond their expertise.

Fortunately, routine dental check-ups twice yearly can help prevent your condition from worsening and causing the need for specialized care. Read on to understand more about dental specialists and general dentistry in Edgartown, MA.

Who is a General Dentist?

A general dentist is a dental professional responsible for taking care of all the oral needs of dental patients regularly. A general dentist can perform standard restorative and cosmetic treatments to restore your smile’s health, function, and appearance.

A general dentist begins practicing right after dental school. A general dentist or specialist can help address or treat dental issues like cavities, decay, tooth pain, gum disease, oral thrush, or tooth sensitivity.

Depending on their expertise and experience, they can perform standard procedures such as routine dental check-ups, oral cancer screening, tooth extractions, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, dental fillings, crowns, veneers, root canal treatment, bridges, and dentures.

Who is a Dental Specialist?

A dental specialist is a dental professional with additional training in a specific field. The extensive training allows them to perform specific procedures in their area of specialization. For instance, if your dentist diagnoses you with a complex condition or severe symptoms that they can’t manage, they will refer you to a specialist.

Types of Dental Specialists

Pediatric dentists

After the initial dental school, pediatric dentists complete two more additional training in caring for the dental needs of infants, children, teens, and patients with special needs. They have training on how to make kids comfortable and relaxed enough to receive dental care without fear, anxiety, and pain. Pediatric dentists perform regular dental checkups and treatments for cavities and other oral issues.


After dental school, orthodontists have three more years of training in orthodontics. Orthodontics specializes in developing, preventing, and correcting disorders or Irregularities of the bite, teeth, jaws, and facial abnormalities. The dentist can refer you to the orthodontist if you have a poor bite, overcrowding, or misalignments. They can provide corrective treatments like braces, Invisalign, and retainers.

Oral Surgeons

Oral surgeons have four years of post-graduate training in oral and maxillofacial surgical procedures. They specialize in treating and diagnosing oral defects, diseases, and injuries of the mouth, teeth, gums, jaw, gums, and other soft tissues of the head. They can perform procedures like wisdom tooth extraction, facial pain, dental implants, tumors and cysts, and TMJ removal.


An endodontist has specialized training in diagnosing and treating issues concerning the inside of a tooth or the dental pulp. They have expertise in performing root canal therapy and other root procedures to restore the health of an infected or damaged tooth.


Prosthodontists have specialized training in restoring and replacing damaged or lost teeth with crowns, bridges, or dentures. They also have training in:

  • Developing artificial substitutes for damaged maxillofacial and oral tissues
  • Post-oral cancer reconstruction
  • Jaw joint problems (TMJ)
  • Snoring and sleeping disorders
  • Traumatic injuries to the mouth


These specialists focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of defects, injuries, and diseases of the supporting tissues of the teeth. They treat gum disease and help restore the health, function, and aesthetics of the gum tissues and the surrounding soft tissue of the teeth. They can perform professional cleanings, scaling and root planing, implant placement, crown lengthening, gum surgery, bone grafts, and gum contouring.

Schedule an Appointment Today with our General dentist in Edgartown, MA

Do you need more information about dental care and treatment? Schedule a dentist appointment at Edgartown Dental Group to speak with our general dentist near you.

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