What Your Dentist Office Does And Does Not Do

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Dental services is a very broad phrase that does not fully explain what a dentist does or what a particular dental office will do. Understanding exactly what services an office provides, and what services it limits for other oral and dental professionals, helps lessen the confusion when selecting a new dentist. The following highlights the most common, least common, and totally NOT doable services of most dental offices.

Most Common Services 

In the lineup of most common dental services, there is the hygienic cleaning, which is performed every six months to provide you with clean, healthy teeth and gums. It is followed up by routine exams, cavity notation for future appointments, and dental restoration services that include cavity drill-and-fills, crowns, and in worst-case scenarios, dental extractions (tooth pulling). Your dentist may also do bridges, but that depends on whether or not he/she is a family dentist versus pediatric-only dentist versus adult-only dentist.

Least Common Services

Among the less common services provided by dentists is sedation dentistry. Not too many dentists are willing to provide this service as it requires either an extra certification in IV sedation or the dentist has to hire a licensed anesthesiologist to work in the clinic part-time. Wiring a person's jaw is another uncommon service since there are orthodontists available that can manage that task in a hospital surgical suite. Dental implants, while common, are not typically offered by most family dentists because it is considered a cosmetic procedure. 

What Your Dentist Will Not Do and for What He/She Will Refer You Elsewhere

Most dentists do not do braces. That is because orthodontists do braces. Unless your dentist is also a licensed orthodontist, it is unlikely that you will be able to get braces for yourself or for a child in the same office where you receive dental care.

Additionally, dentists do not remove wisdom teeth. They refer you to a licensed maxillofacial surgeon to remove the teeth because wisdom tooth removal is an extensive process that requires heavy sedation and several hours to complete. Cosmetic dentistry, unless practiced by your dentist, is a specialty unto itself. Therefore, if you want dental implants or veneers, the dentist will refer you to a cosmetic dentist. Finally, some dentists may offer denture services, but more often than not, cases for dentures are referred to a denturist, who is able to construct dentures in a lab onsite in the clinic.