Family Dentist

A family dentist is a dental practitioner who is trained to administer oral care to people of all ages. If chosen by the patient, a family dentist is responsible for dental care from infancy through adulthood.

The branch of dentistry dealing with the oral care of all ages is known as family dentistry.

family dentist

How Is A Family Dentist Different From A General Dentist?

General Dentists make up about 80% of the oral healthcare industry, being the leading providers among dentists.  Some people tend to think that the terms ‘general dentist’ and ‘family dentist’ are interchangeable. However, that isn’t the case.

A general dentist and a family dentist have similar educational backgrounds. The difference lies in the kinds of patients they oversee.

A general dentist will often be restrictive when it comes to the age groups of their patients. On the other hand, a family dentist is open to overseeing the care of everybody, irrespective of their age. They are trained and experienced to take care of entire families. So whether it’s a toddler in your house or a senior citizen – you’re covered.

dental emergency kids

Since family dentists are responsible for the dental care of entire families, their services reflect that. They offer treatments that are tailored to all the different dental stages of life.


Babies are susceptible to oral diseases before and during their baby teeth phase. The most common diseases to affect babies are cavities and tooth decay.

Your family dentist will show you how to care for your infant’s tongue and gums.

The American Dental Association recommends that you take your infant for their first dental visit as soon as the first tooth erupts. This usually occurs when the baby is 6 months old. To ensure that your child develops good oral habits, you need to start dental care early, both at home and at the dentist’s office.

Early Childhood

As children grow older, they start to lose their baby teeth and the permanent teeth start to erupt. For this purpose, they require specialized dental care.

In this transition phase, you must establish good at-home dental care routines alongside regular trips to your family dentist. Professional cleanings performed every six months help prevent tooth decay, cavities, and various other serious issues.

If your child has developed cavities in their teeth, your family dentist will take care of them by filling the teeth with a restorative material. Furthermore, they will also proceed to apply sealants or fluoride varnishes to prevent future decay.

Teens And Young Adults

The most common treatment that teenagers and young adults require is orthodontics. Many family dentists offer orthodontic services to straighten and reposition misaligned teeth.

Other common issues in this age group are cavities, decay, and gum disease. Your family dentist provides services to combat all of these issues, along with providing dental knowledge on how to care for your teeth.

The dentist will also offer habit-breaking appliances if the patient has any of the following habits – 

  • Nail-biting
  • Thumb sucking
  • Tongue thrusting


Adults tend to skip their regular dental appointments due to busy schedules.

Caring for your oral health is as important for adults as it is for children. As you grow older, you are at an increased risk of tooth loss due to decay or periodontal disease. Adults are also prone to oral cancer, TMJ problems, and the breakdown of fillings.


After you cross the age of 65, you experience new challenges with your body as well as your mouth.

Common conditions that seniors face include attrition, tooth loss, dry mouth, root decay, oral cancer, and severe gum disease. Maintaining a healthy mouth helps reduce the risk of serious oral conditions in the future.

Family dentists cater to all the issues faced by seniors, including replacement of missing teeth, periodontitis, etc.

Teens And Young Adults dentist
A female dentist showing a mirror to boy

There are many advantages to visiting a family dentist. Some of them are – 


When you are visiting the same dentist for years, you become familiar with their work. This makes your regular visits much more comfortable and you feel less anxiety. This is especially important for children and adults who have a fear of dentists. 

Getting treated by the same dental practitioner alleviates a lot of the anxiousness you might experience ahead of your appointment. This helps you and your family stay on track with their dental care and avoid skipping appointments.

Familiarity is also important in terms of family dental history. Since a family dentist is responsible for members of the same family, they are aware of their past and present dental histories. This is important in preventative care. Your dentist can be proactive about looking for signs of any genetic conditions that might be passed down from parent to child.


Another fantastic pro of seeing a family dentist is being able to avoid the hassle of shuttling your family from one specialist to the next. You can schedule multiple appointments on one day and visit the dental office together.

Your dentist is also able to provide knowledge on how to best care for your teeth by talking to everyone at the same time. Again, this is great for kids since they mimic the actions of their elders, making them more careful about their oral hygiene.

Great For Kids

Aside from the previous two advantages for kids, family dentists are perfect for little ones because they are trained to handle them. A family dentist as well as their dental staff know exactly how to make a child feel comfortable and safe within their practice. This goes a long way in ensuring that the child is regular with their visits.

A female dentist showing a mirror to boy
A male dentist talking to a kid with curly hair

Family Dentist At Valley Ridge Dental, MN

Valley Ridge Dental, located in Lake Elmo, MN, is a fantastic practice for you and your family’s dental needs. With an extremely skilled dentist and exceptional staff, we make sure that your dental visits feel less of a task. Additionally, we hold patient care while keeping them comfortable at a very high standard.

If you’re thinking of visiting our dental office, you can schedule a meeting with us by calling (651) 439-0322. You can also fill in this form (for adults) and this one for kids.