The American Dental Association defines general dentistry as the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment (surgical, nonsurgical, or related procedures) of diseases, disorders, and/or conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area, and/or the adjacent or associated structures and their impact on the human body. General dentistry is based on scientific evidence and clinical knowledge of the mouth, teeth, and gums. General dentists are identified by knowledge, techniques, and procedures and can become more advanced through education, practice, and research.
There are two types of general dentists: DDS or Doctor of Dental Surgery and DMD or Doctor of Dental Medicine. These titles indicate which degree the dentist received upon graduation, but there is no difference in the education within these degrees. The university simply determines which degree is awarded. Dentists must also pass a state board exam in order to begin practicing as a general dentist.
A general dentist may choose a specialty or designated area of interest. In these cases, dentists will continue their education and training to become experts in their chosen specialty. They are still general dentists and can continue to perform routine exams, diagnosis, and procedures, but can also perform more intricate procedures based on their training.