What is General Dentistry?
“General dentistry” is the foundation for all dentistry and the frontline in oral care. Anything performed by a general dentist, either during a routine or emergency dental appointment, is considered a general dentistry service.
General dentistry aids in preventing any issues related to oral health from arising. Routine visits with your general dentist are throughout the year are particularly important.
What is a General Dentist?
“General dentists” are main dental care providers who are responsible for diagnosing, preventing, and treating most oral health issues. A general dentist is the most common type of dentist and is the first-line doctor for all oral health and dental needs. He or she is able to perform all routine dental procedures as well as those that are classified as emergency, restorative, and cosmetic. General dentists educate their patients so that they can prevent oral issues from arising. And since oral health is linked to overall health, general dentists do their part to make sure their patients are cared for.
General Dentistry Services
General dentistry appointments are about more than just cleanings. Patients are able to learn about their oral health and have any issues stopped in the early stages. Are you about to visit your dentist? Keep in mind that your appointment can consist of a wide range of services. (These vary by the patient.) Common general dentistry services offered at your routine and emergency visits include:
- X-rays – While not required at every appointment, X-rays are performed periodically to see if there are any changes with your teeth that might include cavities, decay, or impacted teeth.
- Oral exam – Your appointment will typically start with an oral exam from the dental hygienist. During this time, the hygienist will check your oral health, evaluate any risk factors, and check for jaw problems, among other procedures.
- Teeth cleaning – The oral exam leads right into your cleaning. After risk assessment, the hygienist will proceed to clean your teeth. This involves removing plaque from your gum line and between the teeth. He or she will then clean your teeth with toothpaste, floss, and ask you to rinse. In some cases, patients will also receive a fluoride treatment as a protection against cavities.
- Cavity checks – Whether or not you received X-rays, the dentist or hygienist will manually check for cavities. This involves using a probe to check for soft spots.
- Fillings – If you have a cavity or a crack, your tooth will need to be repaired. Your dentist will fill the area with a tooth-colored filling and polish it.
- Root canal – If infected tooth pulp is found during your routine appointment, you may need a root canal. In this procedure, the pulp and nerve root is removed, and the root canal area is cleaned and then sealed. This may require an additional appointment.
- Tooth extraction – During your oral exam, if it is discovered that a tooth is damaged in any way, it may need to be removed. Whole visible teeth can sometimes be removed the same day under local anesthesia. If the tooth is broken or impacted, a second appointment may need to be scheduled. In some cases, a referral to a specialist may be necessary.
- Preventative education – Throughout your appointment, your hygienist and dentist will educate you about good oral health and what you can do to prevent issues from arising. This includes advising you on at-home dental care tips, providing advice on food and drink that you can eat or should avoid, and reminding you to visit the office at least twice a year.
Additional Dental Services
General dentists are well-rounded and perform many other services in addition to those listed above. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Cosmetic Dentistry – This type of dentistry includes many services that are designed to enhance the physical appearance of your teeth, gums, or overall smile. Cosmetic improvements can be stand-alone procedures or be performed after restorative services. General dentists are able to perform procedures such as porcelain veneers, dental implants (which can be completed the same day for some patients), and Invisalign®, teeth whitening, among others.
- Crowns and Bridges – If you are missing multiple teeth, these two procedures often go hand in hand. A dental crown – also known as a cap – is a custom-designed prosthetic tooth that covers one that is damaged. Crowns are made in a lab to look exactly like your natural teeth. A dental bridge connects two crowns and supports the false teeth between them. This is an alternative to having multiple implants placed. Your general dentist will be able to evaluate and determine if a crown and/or bridge are needed to help restore your smile.
- Implant Restoration – Dental implants are titanium screws that are placed in your jawbone to replace missing or recently extracted teeth. Once placed, a prosthetic tooth sits atop the screw so it blends in with your other teeth. Implants not only restore smiles but also retain jaw function, as missing teeth can cause bone loss. General dentists often recommend implants because they are permanent solutions and last long.
- Dentures – General dentists may recommend dentures if you are missing most or all of your natural teeth. Dentures are sets of fake teeth that come in arches and restore your smile and bite. There are many types of dentures. These include full and partial arch or permanent and removable, depending on the number of teeth that are missing.
If dental or cosmetic restorations are needed, general dentists will be able to evaluate each patient’s smile individually and work within their budget to determine the best solution for them.