General Dentistry vs. Specialists

Dr. Andrew is a general dentist, but he does a lot of the procedures that specialists do too…what’s the difference? Great question! General dentists learn to do it all and can continue building their knowledge and skills in all areas of dentistry, while specialists start with the same education as general dentists then focus in on a narrow scope of practice and are the top experts in their area, particularly for difficult and complex cases.

General dentists and specialists all start out in dental school and graduate as dentists. After graduation, students who want to specialize apply for residency programs in their area of interest—orthodontics, root canals, oral surgery, gum health or periodontics, prosthodontics (prosthetic teeth), etc. An interesting fact about specialists is that once they specialize, they can’t do more general treatments—for example, an orthodontist is trained in filling cavities from dental school, but their license doesn’t allow them to perform fillings anymore. General dentists also have limits to how much specialized treatment they are allowed to do across their whole practice and how they communicate about the services they provide.

Dr. Andrew specifically chose to pursue general dentistry as his career path because he loves the variety of care he gets to provide for his patients. From diagnosis to treatment, Dr. Andrew can take care of you. The specialists that Dr. Andrew most commonly refers to are endodontists (root canal specialists), oral surgeons, and orthodontists. While Dr. Andrew can and does perform root canals, oral surgery like extractions, implant placement and bone grafting, and orthodontic braces and clear aligners, sometimes the case needs to go to a specialist.

Knowing when to refer and when they can keep the treatment in-office is actually one of the specialties of the general dentist. Specialists have more training and specialized equipment that general dentists do not have access to. Specialists are specifically trained to take care of the most challenging, complex, or uncommon scenarios.

For most folks in Marshall and the surrounding area, we don’t want to drive all the way to Sioux Falls or the Cities to see a specialist if we don’t have to. This is why Dr. Andrew has prioritized continuing education in several areas so that you can get your treatment done in town at our office. Dr. Andrew is one of the only dentists in the area doing root canals or providing sedation dentistry. We also do braces (both traditional and clear aligners), implants, extractions, etc. Dr. Andrew is constantly pushing himself to build skills and knowledge so that the care you need is right here where you need it most.

Dr. Andrew with his good friend from dental school David. Dr. David is a specialist in endodontic dentistry, and they consult with each other regularly.