One of the major considerations when selecting a dentist is determining what type of practice works best for you. While all dental practices provide basic, general dental care (dental cleanings, fillings, x-rays, extractions), different practices vary in terms of the scope of services offered. Also, in terms of affordability, different types of dental practices cater to different populations. There are five major types of dental practices.
Private dental practices are those which are run by a single, self-employed dentist or partner dentists. Many private dental practices are family practices meaning that the dentist provides continuing and comprehensive dental care for all members of the family. Private practices pride themselves in being small and thus providing a more personal touch; some private dentists even make house calls. Private dentists accept a range of insurance plans and people who see private practitioners are more likely to pay out-of-pocket. Private dentists are general dentists who provide a limited range of services, e.g. they typically won’t provide orthodontic care (braces).
These dental practices are located in, and are a part of, a hospital system. They are clinics or centers that employ multiple dentists who may be licensed dentists or dental school residents-in-training. Some hospital dental centers are specialized centers, for example, focusing on pediatric dentistry alone. Hospital-based dental practices accept a range of insurance plans and tend to have special discount programs for low-income patients.
Group practices refer to dental clinics operated by an association of dental practitioners. Both general dentists and specialists (periodontists, endodontists, oral surgeons etc.) work together at one site providing a broader range of services than private practitioners. Group practices cater to insured patients and those who are able to pay out-of-pocket.
Community dental clinics
Community dental clinics are dental centers that serve a specific population or community. These dental clinics are often located in a community health center that provides general health services. Community dental clinics cater to low-income and uninsured patients. They are funded by the federal government and often have partnerships with hospitals, non-profit dental coverage programs, and other dental benefits providers. Community dental clinics typically provide only the standard range of general dental services.
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