When an individual aspires to become a dentist, he is required to attend school to earn a degree. Depending on the country, Dentistry can be around 4 to 6 years, after which he earns a certification and the title of Doctor. To become a practising dentist, the individual will have to take the licensure examinations (which gauge the professional’s theoretical and practical knowledge) and if he is successful, he obtains his license to practice. At this point, the professional is free to manage patients. The newly graduated professional, is licensed to practice general dentistry.

Licensed dentists are given the choice to practice in a field you are most comfortable in. Some dentists wish to focus their practice on a specific field, so they go into further education to be able to gain expertise. Specialization will require a few more years of post-graduate masteral, after which he builds a practice around this field. Most dentists choose a single specialization. Some dentists have more than one specialization, but some will choose to be in the practice of general dentistry.

Specialists vs. General Practitioner

Sometimes patients wonder if there is a need for them to seek the care of a specialist. When faced with a dental dilemma, the seek the help of a dentist, and they pause for awhile to think if they ought to visit a specialist’s clinic.

There are pros and cons to taking either routes and when you are making a decision, you have to look into these things:

  • A specialist took extra schooling years to master a specific field. This makes the dentist more knowledgeable and possibly more experienced, even with more complicated cases. His extra years in school have allowed him to put much focus on honing the right skills, to be able to provide exemplary care and support.
  • A dentist who has devoted his practice to a single field will be more adept at handling patients. It is all he does, on a daily basis, guaranteeing better exposure, experience and expertise for you to rely on.
  • A general dentist may not be a certified expert, but there are highly skilled dentists in the practice of general dentistry who are able to rival with specialists. Some talent is innate, and some general dentists just have the eye and skill.
  • Dentists in the practice of general dentistry are able to offer treatment at a lower price. Specialist care can be very costly. Specialists put themselves in a higher level and they require a higher fee.
  • With their practice focussed on a specific field, specialists often refuse to treat conditions under another field of expertise. General dentists are able to treat all kinds of patients, with all kinds of problems. This makes them a good “family dentist” because everyone’s needs will be met and you do not have to go anywhere else.

What is true is this: dentists attended years of school, went through years of training and endured rigorous hours of study, to be able to pass the licensure examinations. You are free to choose a specialist if you demand a certain level of care, but most of the time, a general dentist is capable to handle your needs. A responsible dentist is able to gauge his capacity. If the case is beyond his ability, he will refer you to a specialist.