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How To Choose A General Dentist

Updated: Apr 2

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How To Choose A General Dentist

What is a general dentist? For many Americans, the healthcare provider they see most frequently is their general dentist. So, how to choose a general dentist? When most people think of a trip to the dentist, they think of cleanings, fillings, and maybe (but hopefully not!) root canals. However, there is a lot more to dentistry than just these basic procedures.

The American Dental Association defines general dentistry as, “The evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, [and] treatment (nonsurgical, surgical or related procedures) of diseases, disorders [and] conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area [and] the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body; provided by a dentist, within the scope of [their] education, training and experience, in accordance with the ethics of the profession and applicable law.”

Wow, that’s a lot. Okay, let’s unpack this definition a bit by breaking it into two parts. First,

“…evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, [and] treatment (nonsurgical, surgical or related procedures) of diseases, disorders and/or conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area [and] the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body…”

The first part is pretty straightforward – a dentist evaluates and treats ailments of the oral cavity (the mouth) and the maxillofacial area (the jaw and face). Now it gets a little more interesting with the associated structures. What structures are associated with the face mouth, jaw and face, and their impact on the human body? Well, really they all are. The mouth is the gateway to the body – when something goes wrong there, problems begin to mount everywhere. This is why Dr. Snyder takes a holistic approach to dentistry, recognizing the interconnected nature of all the body’s systems, and the influence they have on one another.

The second part of the definition is pretty basic, with one important caveat: “…provided by a dentist, within the scope of [their] education, training and experience, in accordance with the ethics of the profession and applicable law.”

I’ve added the emphasis to training and experience, because all dentists start with more or less similar education, and it’s obvious that they’re bound by laws and ethics like any medical professional. What sets some dentists apart is the training and experience they gain through their practice and through continuing education and training.

Dr. Snyder is committed to constantly expanding her own dental expertise as well as pioneering new therapies and treatments. That’s why she spends about 100 hours a year in advanced dental training, in areas including the impact of tethered-oral tissues (such as tongue-tie), TMJ dysfunction, and oral myofascial dysfunction on maxillofacial development, upper airway resistance syndrome, and obstructive sleep apnea. She also recently completed a mini-residency program in orthotropics – the study and treatment of facial growth guidance in children.

There are around 115,000 general dentists licensed in the United States. About 80% of dentists are general dentists, while the other 20% are specialists in one of nine official areas of interest like orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, and prosthodontics (oral prosthetics). With so many to choose from, how do you know you’re picking the right general dentist? Let’s take a look at some tips:

  • Get a referral – do you know someone who has a great smile? Ask them who their dentist is!

  • Evaluate their reputation – check out the dentist’s reviews on Google, Yelp, or wherever else you can find them.

Check with the state dental board – Every state maintains an agency to ensure transparency for medical professionals like dentists. You can look up a general dentist by name or license number at this page on the New Mexico Regulations and Licensing Department’s website. You’ll get a report including the dentist’s certifications, education, and any violations or disciplinary actions against them.

Consider cost – will the dentist work with your insurance? It’s a good idea to have information about your dental insurance on hand when you call the office. If you don’t have dental insurance, will you be able to afford the dentist of your choosing without it?

Look for advanced technology – the field of general dentistry is filled with fast paced discovery and technological innovation. Many of these innovations, like painless anesthetic delivery, for example, can make a big difference in your experience as a patient. The best dentists make sure their practices keep up with the curve when it comes to new technologies.

DDS vs. DMD – Doctor of Dental Surgery and Doctor of Dental Medicine. Although the names are different, these are the same education. It’s up to the university granting the degree what they want to call it, and state licensing boards accept either interchangeably – so don’t get hung up on it.

What about cosmetic dentistry?

It’s important to note that cosmetic dentistry is not one of the 9 areas of interest recognized by the American Dental Association. This means that any General Dentist can call themselves a cosmetic dentist without any additional education, training, or experience (on top of their dentistry degree, that is). One good way to evaluate the quality of a cosmetic dentist is to take a look at their work. Any cosmetic dentist should be proud of how good their work looks, and eager to show it off. If photos of their work are hard to find or they don’t provide them, that’s a big red flag.

Every year, dental issues cost the global economy over $400 billion. From treatment costs to missed time at work and school, the financial damage caused by afflictions of the mouth, jaw, and face can be extreme – and that’s not even considering the damage to people’s health or the pain they go through. The best way to avoid contributing to this sad statistic is with strong preventive care from a great general dentist. That’s why choosing the right dentist for yourself and your family can be such a huge and stressful decision.

Holistic dentistry

A great general dentist looks out for a range of issues that go far beyond your basic tooth decay. Since a general dentist is often the healthcare provider people see most frequently, they are in a uniquely advantageous position to detect a variety of conditions, from TMD to mouth breathing to sleep apnea. In support of her holistic approach to dental care, Dr. Snyder has added oriental medicine, myofunctional therapy, and more to her practice. Holistic dentistry also places an emphasis on preventive care, rather than reacting to disease after the fact.

The holistic dental network has set out the following principles for holistic dental care:

  • Proper nutrition – good nutrition helps prevent and reverse degenerative dental diseases.

  • Avoidance and removal of toxins from dental materials – in the past, fillings were made of zinc or copper and silver combined with mercury. Mercury is one of the more toxic substances to humans on the planet. In sufficient doses, it can cause blindness, neurological issues, and attacks the kidneys and other organs. Dr. Snyder has never allowed any mercury to be used in her practice.

  • Prevention and treatment of dental malocclusion (bite issues) – bite issues can cause uneven wear of tooth enamel, which leads to tooth decay. If the issue is large enough, it can also cause other issues.

  • Prevention and treatment of gum disease – periodontitis, or gum disease, can cause tooth loss if left untreated. It also has been linked to inflammation and health issues in other parts of the body, so it’s important we work to prevent and treat it whenever possible.

To find out more about the dental services offered by our dentist in Albuquerque NM, Dr. Snyder, call (505)-293-7611, schedule an online consultation or visit us at 4830 Juan Tabo Blvd. NE, Ste. K, Albuquerque, NM, 87111.



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