You can think about your general dentist as a primary care provider for your smile. Your dentist can diagnose and treat oral health conditions and, while each practice offers preventative care, they may differ in the extra services they offer, such as whether or not they do root canals or orthodontics.
Perhaps one of the most essential roles of a general dentist is preventing oral health problems through professional oral care and maintenance, such as regular teeth cleanings, in the first place. However, the role of a general dentist goes beyond oral care—these professionals can even help you support your bodily health by maintaining your smile.
To practice, a general dentist must have completed an undergraduate education, four years of dental school, and be licensed in their state, which requires passing a test and continuing education requirements.
Now that you know what a general dentist is, let’s take a closer look at the services they offer—and how general dentistry can improve your oral health.
What Is General Dentistry?
General dentistry includes a wide range of dental procedures, including dental exams and cleanings, x-rays, fillings, extractions, and root canals. However, general dentistry can also include restorations such as dental implants, bridges, and crowns.
Depending on the dentist, some dentists may also provide orthodontics, oral appliances for conditions such as sleep apnea, and sedation dentistry for those who have dental anxiety. Perhaps the most important care that a general dentist provides is preventative care.
Preventative care includes professional teeth cleanings, dental x-rays to identify cavities or jaw issues, oral cancer screenings, and patient education on oral care.
5 Ways General Dentistry Can Improve Your Oral Health
General dentistry goes a long way toward improving your oral health. Here are five important ways your dentist can help you have a strong, beautiful, and healthy smile.
- Keep Your Teeth Clean
During your regular dental checkups, a dental hygienist will carefully clean your teeth, polish them, and floss them. They will remove plaque and tartar, and the polishing will help remove surface stains and brighten your smile.
Keeping your teeth clean isn’t just about aesthetics, however. Regular teeth cleanings help prevent plaque and tartar buildup from causing tooth enamel damage, which can result in sensitive teeth and cavities.
Having a healthy smile may also promote good heart health and lower your risk for diabetes, both of which have been linked to oral bacteria. There’s much more to your smile than just beauty!
2. Catch Damage Early
General dentistry focuses on preventative care, but getting bi-annual checkups with your dentist also ensures that you can catch any potential damage to your smile early to minimize the treatment you need.
For example, catching a cavity in its early stages means you may be able to reverse the cavity, or only need a small filling to fix the problem. As cavities progress, they can get large enough to compromise your entire tooth and need root canal therapy or an extraction.
Your dentist can identify damage from tooth decay, chips, and cracks so you can get these problems repaired with minimal intervention and keep your smile in the best shape possible. In addition, your dentist will conduct an annual oral cancer screening during your visit to screen for oral cancer, which can help save your life if detected early.
3. Prevent Tooth Loss
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in older adults. Unfortunately, gum disease is very common—almost half of all adults in the United States over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. Without treatment, gum disease can progress to cause loose teeth and tooth loss.
Fortunately, general dentistry can help treat gum disease and, when you keep your regular appointments, prevent it from happening in the first place. During your routine exams, your dentist can also address other conditions that could potentially cause tooth loss, such as progressing cavities, teeth grinding (bruxism), or even dental injuries such as vertical fractures that may cause the need for a tooth extraction.
When you keep your smile strong and healthy with regular dentistry, you can prevent tooth loss and the need for artificial dental restorations as a result.
4. Design a Beautiful Smile
Cosmetic dentistry is often a part of general dentistry, and while cosmetic procedures won’t directly improve your oral health, for many of these treatments, you need to have good oral health in the first place to get the procedure. So if you have tooth decay or gum disease, your dentist will need to treat these conditions before you can get a teeth whitening or dental veneers.
In addition, people who have their dream smiles through cosmetic dentistry tend to be more motivated to care for their smiles afterward, which can promote good oral health. Many cosmetic dentistry procedures require maintenance to keep your smile in excellent shape and have a beautiful and bright smile for as long as possible.
5. Learn to Better Care for Your Smile
Part of general dentistry includes patient education, which can help you better care for your smile through proper brushing and flossing. Your dentist will also review your fluoride use with you and even your diet to ensure you’re making every effort to prevent cavities.
Your dentist can help you identify areas that you miss when brushing, help you choose the right toothbrush and toothpaste, and work with you to address goals you may have for your smile, such as maintaining a professional teeth whitening or getting straighter teeth.
When you’re empowered to better care for your smile, you have all the tools and information you need to keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime.
Have You Seen Your Dentist Lately?
Most patients need to see their general dentist every six months in order to keep their smile healthy and prevent common oral health problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. Have you seen your dentist in Asheville lately? If not, book an appointment with Saunders DDS today by calling (828) 277-6060 or reach out through our contact form to request a specific appointment day and time.