General dentistry has historically been considered by many to be limited to professional teeth cleaning, but today’s modern dentist provides services far beyond this. Whether it is taking x-rays, treating cavities with fillings, putting in a crown, or addressing other oral health concerns, general dentistry encompasses all of these procedures and more.
In many ways, a general dentist is home base for all things related to your oral health, but scientists now largely believe that dental hygiene can be an indicator of an individual’s overall health as well. With this in mind, it is particularly alarming that just over half of all American adults are estimated to visit the dentist regularly.
Irregular general dentistry appointments may be contributing to the number of Americans experiencing untreated gum disease or periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a classic example of oral health being an indicator of a person’s overall health as the disease may be associated with an increased risk for diabetes, stroke, lung disease, and heart disease.
Your oral health is too important to leave to chance. Find a general dentist that meets your specific needs and make an appointment today.
General Dentistry Services
To stay on top of their oral health, it is recommended that patients make a regular visit to their dentist every six months. Most dentists provide their patients with the following basic services:
General Oral Health Screenings
Fillings for Cavities
Crowns, Bridges, etc.
In addition to these basic services, many dentists also provide cosmetic dentistry services such as teeth whitening, veneers, dental implants, dental prostheses, and custom night guards.
General Oral Health Screenings
The scope of general dentistry continues to increase with modern technology, allowing many dentists to provide services that they previously did not. This may include services such as:
- Oral cancer screenings
- Head and neck exam
- Intraoral soft tissue exam
- Complete evaluation of teeth structures
- Periodontal charting to screen for periodontal disease
A general dentist is essential in detecting potentially harmful conditions that may present in the mouth, head or neck. It’s important to work with a dentist that prioritizes their patient’s overall health.
Whether a patient is visiting the dentist for the first time ever or for the first time in a long time, it is standard protocol for the dentist to request x-rays. These detailed images of your teeth and jaw bone enable dental professionals to better evaluate your oral health. In general, these x-rays can assist dentists in identifying:
- Tooth Movement
- Tooth Decay/Cavities
- Impacted Teeth
- Jaw Bone Pathology
X-rays are painless, relatively fast and provide a baseline reference point for dentists.
Despite conscientious good oral hygiene behaviors of brushing and flossing twice a day, our teeth are better cleaned by a professional with specialized tools. A normal teeth cleaning appointment generally includes:
- Minimizing plaque with specialized dental tools
- Polishing the front and back of teeth on the top and bottom of the mouth
- Flossing in between the teeth and permanent retainers
- Fluoride treatment
From plaque removal to fluoride, the process should take around thirty minutes. This preventative procedure is recommended to be performed every six months. Occasionally, additional cleaning may be required withing 4-6 weeks. In more severe cases, scaling and root planning (SRP), otherwise know as deep cleaning, may be needed and usually requires additional appointments.
Cavities and Fillings
If a patient is good about seeing a dentist every six months, it is possible that the dentist will be able to spot a cavity before a patient even knows it exists. However, sometimes a patient develops a cavity in between visits and becomes aware of a problem via tooth sensitivity and/or pain.
Although it is not common, it is possible for a previous cavity filling to need an adjustment or repair. In these cases is it usually because a filling:
- Falls Out
A filling that pulls away or comes out of the tooth can leave behind a small empty space that may promote bacteria growth and tooth decay. Most of the time there is recurrent (new) decay forming under the existing filling. To keep other oral health issues at bay due to the loss or irritation of a filling, it is crucial that patients see their dentist right away if they suspect a problem.
Another fairly common service dentists provide is dental crowns. In some ways a crown is similar to a cap that fits directly over a tooth. The insertion of a crown allows for a patient’s damaged tooth to be covered with a cap that is similar in color, shape, and size to the rest of their teeth.
Crowns are primarily used for:
- Cavities too large for the average filling
- To protect teeth after root canal treatments
- Teeth that are discolored or misshapen
- Teeth that are cracked, weakened, and worn down
Crowns can be made of different materials, each differing slightly in presentation, strength, durability and cost. Discuss these options with a dentist to find out which is best for your specific circumstances.
It is worth noting that a temporary crown may need to be worn while a specialized lab carefully crafts a permanent crown made to fit your tooth.
Bridges are similar to crowns, but they are usually placed to replace a missing tooth.
In addition to the above, there are other services offered in general dentistry, which often includes but is not limited to the following:
- Teeth whitening
- Custom night guards
A general dentist’s mission is to provide a patient with the highest level of oral health possible. However, the weight of this responsibility does not rest on their shoulders alone. Patients must be proactive in keeping regular appointments for teeth cleanings, x-rays, and other key screenings.
If an unexpected problem such as a cracked tooth should occur between visits, the patient should make an appointment right away to avoid further damage.
Make your oral health a priority, because having clean and healthy teeth and gums really is something to smile about.