Contrary to popular belief, dentistry doesn’t just deal with the care of your teeth and gums. General dentistry focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of conditions, disorders and diseases affecting the teeth, gums and entire facial region of the body. The professional practitioners of dentistry are commonly referred to as dentists. General dentists provide services related to the general maintenance of oral hygiene and tooth health.
Like general practitioners in the medical field are trained to perform a variety of medical procedures, most general dentists are trained to handle almost any dental procedure. Rather than specialize in one specific area of dentistry, a general dentist is trained to perform a variety of services for their patients. These services often include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Cosmetic dentistry procedures such as porcelain veneers and smile makeovers
- Dental restorations such as crowns and bridges
- Dental implants to replace teeth that are missing or to hold dentures in place
- Orthodontics to help straighten teeth that are misaligned
- Root canal therapy in cases of severe tooth decay
- Gum disease therapy to prevent gum and bone loss
- Teeth cleaning to remove deposits that naturally build up over time and keep teeth healthy
- TMD/TMJ therapy
- Mouth guards for the treatment of bruxism (teeth grinding)
If there is a more specialized procedure or dental issue that your general dentist cannot fix, they will give you a referral to an oral surgeon or other specialized dentist. In some cases, this specialist may even work in the same office as your dentist, making it quite convenient to receive specialized treatments.
One of the most important procedures your dentist is trained to perform is an oral cancer screening. Oral cancer affects around 40,000 people each year, though it is one of the lesser-known forms of the disease. As with other forms of cancer, early detection and treatment is essential for ensuring that the cancer can be treated properly and cured. Usually, your dentist will perform an oral cancer screening at your bi-annual teeth cleaning visit to their office, though they may recommend more intensive tests at times.
Ideally, general dentistry is a preventative practice. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you visit your dentist regularly – at least once every six months – to ensure proper oral hygiene and functionality. Regular checkups and oral health maintenance prevent the development of serious dental problems that can require costly treatment. Additionally, poor oral health can have a serious effect on your overall health as well. Patients with poor oral health are at an increased risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke and other health issues. This is because your mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria that can easily pass to the rest of your body. If you remain vigilant in your oral health practices and visit your dentist regularly, you can enjoy exceptional dental and overall physical health.