One of the first things a person notices about you is your smile. Unfortunately, many people don’t take care of their teeth and gums as they should, and their smiles suffer. Poor dental hygiene not only can affect your appearance, but it also can harm your self-confidence and overall health. Part of any good oral and dental care program should include annual visits to a general dentist. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends seeing a general dentist twice a year to help ensure that your dental hygiene is optimal, while keeping your smile looking great. In the past, routine dental appointments typically meant a basic exam, X-rays and teeth cleaning. But today all that has changed, and a trip to the dentist is not what your parents experienced just a few decades ago. You’ll still get a high-quality checkup, cleaning and X-rays, but if you haven’t been to the dentist for years you will no doubt be amazed by the technological advancements in their office. General dentists now do restorative cosmetic procedures, treat sleep disorders, provide nutritional counseling and even perform oral cancer screenings. They use innovative practices designed to make your in-office experience more comfortable and rewarding than ever before, leading to a better smile, renewed self-confidence, and improved health for many years to come. To make that happen, most general dentists now routinely provide these top-quality dental services.
Preventative Dental Care and Teeth Cleaning
Air Abrasion- This very comfortable procedure has now replaced traditional, anxiety-inducing dental drills. An air-powered specialized dental tool is employed to gently dislodge potentially-harmful dental build-up material from your teeth.
Cone Beam CT Imaging- This innovative technology enables dentists to get a 3-D virtual image of your teeth and mouth in a way that a typical X-ray can’t. The beam imaging that’s employed enables the dentist to not only detect hidden dental problems before they get worse, but also serves as an effective planning tool if you need a more involved dental procedure.
Digital X-Rays- These allow for dental professionals to more clearly receive diagnostic images while reducing your radiation exposure by up to 90% over traditional X-rays. Digital X-rays are safer for you and more enlightening for the dentist, and have become a more effective way to catch potential dental problems early on.
Laser Applications- With the aid of lasers, dentists can now more efficiently uncover and then treat potential dental issues than ever before. Laser dentistry techniques allow your dentist to identify tiny areas of tooth decay before they do more serious damage. The employment of lasers by dentists is also beneficial for removing diseased dental material and cancerous cells, and as such has shown great promise in the treatment of gum disease.
Oral Cancer Detection- Catching oral cancer early on makes a huge difference in improving a patient’s long-term prognosis. Dentists today are highly-trained in the detection of oral cancer and pre-cancerous tissue, and use screening exams to check a patient’s gums, inner cheek areas, lips and tongue.
Sealant Use- Many people today develop cavities on their back teeth, and children are particularly at-risk. Your back teeth typically have deeper pits and grooves, which act like magnets in attracting plaque and tarter buildup. Transparent plastic resin sealants can be applied by dentists to protect tooth enamel, especially in the rear of your mouth, which serve to block harmful bacteria and mouth acid.
Restorative Cosmetic Dental Procedures
Bridges- When you’re missing one or more consecutive teeth, bridgework that matches your remaining ones can be fashioned to fill in the gap. That prosthetic dental piece is called a crown, and it is then anchored onto two more crowns on either side that fit onto your natural teeth. When the dentist is finished, your restored smile will look as good as new.
Cosmetic Bonding- With this procedure, the dentist uses a tooth-colored dental resin to fill in tooth defects like cracks, minor spacing abnormalities, chips and discolored tooth enamel. Easily done during one office visit, the resin is then cured, bonds with the natural enamel, and then forms a hard and resilient tooth surface.
Dental Implants- Tooth implants are used to replace one or more individual teeth, support bridgework, or anchor a complete set of dentures. Implants last for years, are easy to take care of, look and act like your real teeth while supporting your jaw’s natural bone tissue. A dental implant is a replacement tooth with a surgically-inserted titanium root. Once in place, the dentist caps the root with a natural-looking tooth replacement. Patients that get dental implants are routinely amazed at how much they feel and perform like natural teeth.
Dentures- Denture materials and technology have improved greatly over the years, and dentures are much less noticeable than before. They are necessary when a patient is missing several teeth, and dentures are either full or partial. Today’s dentures have a resin base that matches your gum tissue, along with custom-made, lifelike replacement teeth that stay firmly in place thanks to a reliable suction force.
Smile Makeovers- We all enjoy boosted confidence levels when our smiles are more appealing. Smile makeovers are used by dentists to completely transform your mouth, after first determining that the teeth and gums are healthy. If not, initial restorative work may be required, including crowns, a root canal, dental implants and other procedures. From there your smile will be restored using innovations including teeth whitening, tooth bonding, veneers and teeth straightening; the latter through the use of a product like Invisalign. When the makeover is complete, most patients are very pleasantly surprised at their new smile’s transformative look.
Teeth Whitening- In-office whitening involves the application of a fast-acting gel. Your dental professional then uses a special light or laser to activate the gel and bleaching promptly occurs. Later you will walk out of the office with pearl white teeth that are guaranteed to get noticed.
Tooth Inlays and Onlays- In some cases a tooth has sustained too much damage for just a filling, but still has enough mass to negate a full dental crown. When that happens, general dentists use an inlay or outlay, which are other terms for an “indirect filling”. They either go inside the boundaries of the remaining dental cusp (inlay), or fill in outside of the cusp (outlay).
Tooth-Matching Fillings- Filling technology has improved tremendously from the days of using clearly noticeable metal mixtures called amalgram fillings, which also had a tendency to shrink over time. Now general dentists have at their disposal naturally-appearing composite resin and porcelain fillings that blend in with your natural tooth enamel, are very durable, and require very little removal of the affected tooth’s existing enamel.
Veneers- A dental porcelain veneer, or laminate, is a very thin, custom-crafted shell of tooth-colored material that covers the front surface to cosmetically-enhance your tooth. The color, shape, size or length of your natural tooth can be positively-altered using a veneer.
Other Reliable Services General Dentists Perform
Emergency Dental Care- Mouth-related accidents can happen anytime, resulting in serious traumatic injuries to a patient’s teeth and gums. As a result, most general dentists also provide 24/7 after-hour and weekend services in order to take care of your emergency before it causes more permanent and expensive dental issues later on.
Nutritional Counseling- There’s no question that what we put into our mouths affects our body’s overall health. In addition, certain foods and drinks can either protect against, or accelerate, tooth decay and gum disease. Acidic and sugary foods and beverages are harmful to your teeth, especially when exposure to those starts during childhood years. A food’s consistency can also impact your teeth’s health, along with the nutritional makeup of the foods and beverages that you consume. General dentists are educated in both dental and total body nutrition, and can explain to you how to tweak your diet so that it’s well-balanced and healthy.
Pediatric Care- From the time a young child begins to have teeth come in, there’s the potential for dental and gum-related problems. General dentists are qualified to treat patients of all ages, while providing them with a full-line of reliable preventative and restorative dental care services. They know how to put young patients at-ease in what can otherwise be an unsettling environment for them. They can also provide you with beneficial preventative dental care tips for your child. Scheduling regular checkups with a general dentist will lead to healthier smiles as your kids progress into adulthood.
Root Canal Therapy- No one likes to experience the pain and eating discomfort from a root canal, which result from a cavity that grows into the dental pulp and root. Left untreated, the infected tooth will get progressively worse and could cause gum disease and jaw bone tissue loss. When it happens to you, a general dentist can employ restorative therapy methods to cleanse and repair the infected tooth before it gets worse. Root canal therapy is done under anesthetic, and involves a precision removal of the diseased tooth pulp and roots. Your tooth is disinfected, filled with a natural-looking material, and then finally sealed with dental cement.
Sleep Apnea Treatments- Many adults in the U.S. suffer from sleep apnea. General dentists can recommend and fit sleep apnea patients with oral appliances that facilitate a safer and more restful sleep, while providing them and their sleep partner with peace-of-mind.
TMD Diagnosis and Treatment- Many adults experience temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) but fail to get them properly diagnosed. Signs of TMD include pain to the head, neck or jaw, limited jaw movement, and/or popping and clicking sounds when you move your jaw. Inflamed or injured joints that connect your lower jaw to your neck can cause TMD, and lead to the soreness, popping noises, stiffness and pain. General dentists are trained to diagnose TMD, determine the underlying cause, and then make treatment recommendations based upon that initial evaluation.
Wisdom Tooth Extractions- The term “wisdom teeth” refers to the third set of molars at the very back of your mouth, and they typically come in when someone is in their late teens or early 20s. Common problems with wisdom teeth, especially ones that don’t fully emerge through the gums, include infections, cavities, gum disease, and crooked or misaligned dental features as they crowd out your other teeth. A general dentist has the expertise to extract all of the wisdom teeth that are causing problems, including any that have become infected. For your comfort, a general anesthetic is used during a wisdom tooth extraction so that you don’t feel any pain.
There you have it… the services that general dentists in your neighborhood provide to their patients in order to create a world filled with happier, healthier smiles! Keep the smiles of you and your family members looking great for many years to come by scheduling a comprehensive dental screening and checkup today with one of the reliable general dentists in your area.