What Exactly Is General Dentistry?

General Dentists perform restorative, prosthetic, endodontic therapy, periodontal therapy, and exodontias, as well as performing examinations. Many general practitioners are comfortable treating complex cases, as well as placing implants and extracting wisdom teeth. All dentists must achieve a certain degree of skill in various disciplines in order to graduate from dental school and become accredited.

General Dentists are not only restricted to the mouth. They are actually in charge of the head and neck in priority patients. Priority patients include patients with congenital abnormalities, patients who have suffered facial trauma and those being treated for cancer in the head and neck region. These are treated in a multidisciplinary team approach with other hospital based dental specialties orthodontics and maxillofacial surgery. Other priority patients include those with infections or avulsed permanent teeth, as well as patients with a history of smoking or smokeless tobacco with ulcers in the oral cavity.

In addition to general dentistry, there are about 9 recognized dental specialties in the US, Canada, and Australia. Many specialty programs have optional or required advanced degrees such as a masters degree: (MS, MSc, MDS, MSD, MDSc, MMSc, or MDent), doctoral degree: (DClinDent, DMSc, or PhD), or medical degree: (MD/MBBS specific to Maxillofacial Surgery and sometimes Oral Medicine).

  • Dental public health (study of dental epidemiology and social health policies),
  • Endodontic (root canal therapy and study of diseases of the dental pulp),
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology (study, diagnosis, and sometimes the treatment of oral and maxillofacial related diseases),
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (study and radiologic interpretation of oral and maxillofacial diseases),
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (extractions, implants, and facial surgery),
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics (straightening of teeth and modification of midface and mandibular growth),
  • Periodontics (study and treatment of diseases of the periodontium(non-surgical and surgical), and placement and maintenance of dental implants),
  • Pediatric dentistry (i.e. dentistry for children, formerly known as "pedodontics"),
  • Prosthodontics (dentures, bridges and the restoration of implants. Some prosthodontists further their training in "oral and maxillofacial prosthodontics"–a discipline concerned with the replacement of missing facial structures—such as ears, eyes, nose, etc.)

Specialists in these fields are designated registrable (U.S. "Board Eligible") and have exclusive titles such as orthodontist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, endodontist, pediatric dentist, periodontist, or prosthodontist upon satisfying certain local (U.S. "Board Certified"), registry requirements.

Other dental education exists where no postgraduate formal university training is required: cosmetic dentistry, dental implant, among others. These usually require the attendance of one or more continuing education courses that typically last for one to several days. There are restrictions on allowing these dentists to call themselves specialists in these fields. The specialist titles are registrable titles and controlled by the local dental licensing bodies.

General Dentists are the first professionals you see before going to any specialists. They are the ones to do the initial evaluation and diagnosis. Once any problems have been identified a general dentist will treat it or refer you to a specialist. Most general dentists have specialist training and perform many specialist treatment with maybe the exception of orthodontics.

Dr James Russo is a General Dentist who practices in San Leandro, CA. From his San Leandro Ca location he serves patients with general dentistry needs in San Leandro, Castro Valley, Alameda, Oakand and Hayward, California. To learn more about Dr Russo and his team visit the Our Team page of this web site.


  Copyright 2009 James P.Russo, DDS. All Rights Reserved.