General dentistry is the face of dental health care and is the most common type of oral healthcare services. General dentists diagnose, treat, and manage different oral healthcare needs in short and long-term terms. There's a need to understand what kind of services general dentists offer to be certain of what kind of services you'll be seeking. For those seeking general dentistry services in Carson, CA, please schedule an appointment with the Washington Dental, and let's help you maintain a perfect smile and optimal oral healthcare.
Definition and Types of General Dentistry
General dentistry refers to the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, treatment of diseases, conditions of the oral cavity, disorders, the adjacent and associated structure, and their impact on the human body. A general dentist provides general dentistry services within the scope of their experience, training, and ethics applied by law.
General dentists usually develop a customized dental hygiene plan that includes dental examination, teeth cleaning, x-ray, tooth scaling, and use of several types of procedures to prevent, uncover, and treat dental problems as early as possible.
There are several procedures used in general dentistry. This includes consultation, diagnosis, CAT scans, X-rays, and wax mold when replacing lost teeth. Their services can be divided into four major categories, which are as follows:
- Preventive Services. Preventive services help maintain quality oral health by stopping infections and diseases before they affect your mouth. It includes regular examination procedures like professional teeth cleaning and X- rays. A general dentist will also teach you how to improve your oral hygiene. Your dentist can also recommend preventive measures like the use of sealants when needed. For those that want to lead an active lifestyle, their dentist might fit a custom-made mouthguard.
- Restorative Services. One of the most common restoration procedures is removing a decaying tooth and filling the affected area. However, there are other restorative services offered by general dentists. These services also include procedures like emergency treatment for dental trauma, treatment of gum disease, placement of crowns and bridgework, orthodontic services, dental implant services, and root canal services.
- Cosmetic Procedure. General dentists also help people maintain sparkling smiles through several types of cosmetic procedures. They usually offer a wide range of cosmetic procedures like lumineers, cosmetic bonding, veneers, Invisalign, and teeth whitening. If you're looking to have a bright smile, a general dentist would be the best professional to seek help from.
- Overall Health Services. Your dental health is a mirror to your overall health. Some oral conditions can affect other parts of your body. For instance, leaving an oral infection untreated can cause poor diabetes control, complication during pregnancy, and increased cardiovascular incidences. A professional general dentist is trained to identify these issues and recommend the best treatment. General dentists can also offer crucial advice on your general health, tobacco cessation, and means to maintain a quality lifestyle.
From the categories provided above, there are specific procedures that stand out. Let's have a closer look at them.
Regular Dental Examination
It's recommendable to visit a dentist two times a year. In a typical dental examination, a general dentist will attend to you. However, they usually rely on the help of a dental hygienist to clean and polish your teeth while talking to you about taking care of your teeth. The dentist will then review the cleaning process, conduct an oral examination of your gum teeth, and make a thorough diagnosis like ordering an X-ray to make appropriate treatment recommendations.
Although it's recommended to seek these services at least twice a year, some people might need these services more often. These people include:
- Those that are suffering from gum disease.
- Those from a family with a history of cavities and plaque.
- Those with a weakened immune system.
- Those that are experiencing life events that can cause illness or stress. Under these circumstances, changes of infection or mouth could occur.
Information You Should Share with A General Dentist on Your First Visit
Your general dentist must learn about your oral health to notice changes or problems more easily during your future visits. However, before the review, your general dentist would want to know about your general health. Some of the areas that you should discuss with your dentist include:
Current Medication and Medical History
Your dentist will want to know if you've been diagnosed with any diseases. It's essential to tell your dentist about all your health issues, not just those that affect your mouth. For instance, telling your dentist about several diseases like diabetes is crucial in managing the risk of gum disease. Your medical history also helps the general dentist decide whether you'd need to use anesthesia or a different approach to treatment and prevention.
You should also bring a list of all medications that you're taking and their dosage. Some medicines cause dry mouth, increasing the risk of cavities. Another essential reason your dentist should know about your medication is to be certain of the medicine you will prescribe to you and avoid harmful interactions. It also helps the dentist change the anesthesia supposed to use if necessary.
Your Current Dental Health
You shouldn't hesitate to tell your dentist if you think you have any lumps or bumps in your gum, experiencing sensitive teeth, or thinking that you have a new cavity. Informing your dentist about the symptoms that you're experiencing might help make an early diagnosis.
Your Dental Fears
Let your general dentist know about any fear you have about going to receive dental care. There are many dental pain management options to choose from, and your dentist will discuss ways you can minimize your pain and make you feel comfortable.
What to Expect in a Typical Check-Up Appointment
In a dental check-up, you would expect several things to happen. Some of the oral healthcare activities that you expect include the following:
Your general dentist and an oral hygienist will likely see you once you visit a dental clinic. The hygienist usually performs the initial examination of your gum. Hygienists should not diagnose your tooth problem but are only restricted to documenting the problem. They usually document changes in your overall teeth health, medicine that you use, and advise you on caring for your gum and teeth.
A professional tooth cleaning process provides a suitable way to remove plaque more than you could do using home-based tooth brushing and flossing. Dentists usually use several metal hand instruments to clean your teeth. Some even use ultrasonic scalers to provide deep cleaning above and below the gum line.
After your teeth have been cleaned, your general dentist should polish them to remove plaque from their surface. The polish includes fluoride and an abrasive substance, applied using a small rotating brush or cup attached to a dental handpiece.
Cavity and Gum Disease Prevention Services
Once the dentist completes the polishing process, he might offer additional instructions that you should follow at home, depending on the results of your dental examination. Don't hesitate to ask about instructions on flossing, brushing, or general questions about your gums and teeth.
X-rays are the most common type of diagnosis made during a dental check-up. Your dentist will consider taking an X-ray if there are risks of developing cavities.
If there are any oral health problems noticed during the dental examination, your general dentist should recommend the best next step that you should pursue. The dentist might refer you to an oral healthcare specialist, recommend additional diagnostic tests, or advise you about restoration work like crowns and filling.
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screening is a form of examination performed by a general dentist to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. The objective of an oral cancer examination is to identify mouth cancer as early as possible and increase the chances of curing it if possible.
Most dentists perform this kind of examination during your routine dentist visit. Some dentists may do some additional tests to identify areas of abnormal cells in your mouth.
Oral cancer screening is suitable for people with a high risk of this oral cancer. However, studies have not proven that it would be beneficial. Still, most researches have supported that it is better done to gather enough evidence to make recommendations of oral cancer treatment. Therefore, some of the people at a high risk of oral cancer include the following:
- Tobacco users of any kind, whether cigarettes, pipes, chewing tobacco, and snuff.
- Heavy alcohol users.
- People who have gone through an oral cancer diagnosis.
- Those with a history of significant sun exposure.
What to Expect in An Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screening can be as quick as brushing your teeth. A comprehensive examination can take less than two minutes. Your dentist will most likely check on areas that you’ve never considered to be inspected. They usually inspect your oral cavity and its connected tissues. This includes the pharynx, sinuses, larynx, and throat.
Please note, the term “ oral cancer screening” is usually interchanged with the term “ mouth cancer screening.” Therefore, you should expect your dentist to use these terms during your routine dental examination. There are two types of examinations performed in mouth cancer screening. These types of examinations are as follows:
In a visual examination, you should start by removing your dentures or any other removable oral appliance that you might have. This will allow the dentist to examine your whole mouth. Your dentist will look for bumps, swellings, ulceration, asymmetric, and other types of abnormalities.
The dentist will use a light and a mirror to look inside your mouth. They will also use a tongue depressor to hold your tongue down and look at the back of your mouth. As you have learned since your childhood, your dentist will ask you to stick your tongue out and say “Ahh” to expose areas in your throat that are difficult to see.
Apart from the visual examination, your dentist will likely touch your mouth, face, and neck to check for unusual masses or nodules. Touching these areas will help the dentist identify whether there are any cancer-causing abnormalities in your mouth. Although most of the oral cancer symptoms are sometimes painful, they are usually painless at the early stages. This makes it crucial to have this type of screening more often.
Once your dentist finds one or several cancer-like symptoms, they might refer you to a specialist for further testing and finding what the symptoms mean. Keep in mind that the results need further investigation, not necessarily a cancer diagnosis. Finding cancer through an early diagnosis means that you can reduce treatment-related problems as early as possible.
Deep Teeth Cleaning
Sometimes a standard cleaning by a dental hygienist isn’t enough. You‘ll probably need a deep cleaning to restore your healthy gums if bacteria invade below your gumline.
Deep cleaning, also known as root planing or periodontal scaling, is a typical dental cleaning process that focuses on the outer surface of the roots and below your gum line. This type of cleaning is necessary when there is tartar buildup that causes infection of the gum. In most cases, pockets usually form, widening the gum line, pulling away from the tool.
Deep dental cleaning helps control the infection and enhance healing. This process comprises of two procedures - scaling and root planing.
Scaling is a part of the deep cleaning process where a dentist removes all the tartar and plaque collected below your gumline, cleaning it down to the bottom of its pocket.
Planning is the second part of the deep teeth cleaning process that consists of smoothening your teeth roots to enhance the gum’s reattachment to your teeth.
How to Identify that You Need Deep Dental Cleaning
You might start by noticing infection signs that require deep dental cleaning. These signs start with red and swollen gum, tender and bleed a little when you floss or brush. Sometimes you might notice that one of your teeth is longer than it used to be, meaning that it might be starting to pull away from the gum.
Your dentist should diagnose the problem by measuring the pockets that have formed using a special probe. The test is usually painless. He or she might also take an X-ray to check whether you’ve experienced any bone loss. If the pockets are deep, you will need a deep cleaning to clear the infection and promote healing.
Most general dentists offer teeth whitening services. However, the American Dental Association only recommends these services only after consulting with your dentist, especially for those with many filing, with extremely dark stains, and filings. A thorough examination performed by the dentist is also essential in determining whether using bleach is an appropriate course of treatment.
While seeking teeth whitening services, you must first understand the source of the discoloration. The most common culprits include red wine, coffee, tea, and smoking. However, there can be underlying causes like root exposure and decay.
Please note that teeth whitening is only limited to real teeth. If you already have crowns and filing, teeth whitening mightn't work unless you decide to change them. You should also note that teeth whitening might cause your teeth and gum to be sensitive to the chemicals used.
It's essential to note that teeth whitening treatment can also provide results only for three years. However, this varies from one person to another. If you are used to smoking, drinking red wine, coffee, or tea, your whitened teeth might fail to last up to three years.
Your dentist will likely recommend you use a mouth guard to hold the bleach next to your teeth. Ensure that the mouth guard is in a safe and clean place if you want it to last for years.
You can always speak to your dentist if you're unhappy with the result. There are no guarantees, and sometimes the dentist might recommend that you stop the procedure if you start experiencing some sensitivity. As long as you are seeing your dentist, he or she will only use a specific type of whitening gel to reduce the possibility of experiencing severe side effects.
Sometimes extracting your permanent tooth in adulthood can be necessary. There are several reasons why this procedure might be necessary. Common reasons to consider this kind of procedure include extreme damage to a tooth, decay, and trauma. Other reasons include aligning your teeth in a crowded mouth and allowing enough room for a tooth that cannot erupt from the gum.
General dentists can also recommend tooth extractions if you start experiencing infection due to tooth decay. For minor infections, the dentist might recommend antibiotics. However, for severe infections, the dentist might recommend root canal therapy.
What to Expect in a Tooth Extraction
Before a dentist pulls out your tooth, he or she will inject you using local anesthesia to numb the tooth extraction site. In some instances, the dentist might use a strong general anesthetic to prevent pain throughout your body and make your sleep through the procedure uncomfortable.
For impacted teeth, dentists usually cut them away from the bone tissue and gum covering it and then use forceps to grasp the tooth, rock it until it loosens from the ligament and jaw bone that holds it in place. Sometimes dentists usually remove hard-to-pull teeth in pieces.
After the dentist pulls off the tooth, a blood clot will form in the socket. They usually pack a gauze pad into the socket, which you should bite down to slow down the bleeding. Sometimes they can place stitches near the gum edge.
You might experience a blood clot when the socket loosens, exposing the bone inside the socket. This is referred to as a dry socket and is usually quite painful. If it happens, your dentist will most likely place a sedative dressing on the socket to protect it for a few days to allow a new clot to form.
It's normal to experience pain when the anesthesia wears off. You should also expect some swelling or residual bleeding. However, if the bleeding or pain remains severe hours after the dentist pulled off the tooth, you should contact him or her. Other factors that make it necessary to call a dentist include:
- Signs of infection like chills and fever.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, or severe vomiting.
- Redness, swelling, or excessive discharge from the infected area.
Dental Sealing Services
Dental sealing is another popular service offered by general dentists. It involves using a dental sealant, a thin plastic film painted on molars, and premolars chewing services. Dental sealants have proven to be reliable in protecting the tooth surface from caries. They act as physical barriers to decay-causing elements. Bacteria and food particles can’t penetrate through a sealant if it’s intact.
Dentists apply the sealant by cleaning the surface and thoroughly rinsing the surface to remove traces of the cleaning agent. They will then apply an etching solution to the enamel, including the grooves and pits. After the site has dried, the sealant is applied and allowed to harden using a special curing light.
Applying the sealant is painless and can last anywhere between five and forty-five minutes, depending on the number of teeth that need sealing. A well-applied sealant can last up to ten years if you regularly seek dental check-up services to monitor its bond to the tooth.
Choosing the Right General Dentist Near Me
General dentists are your partners in maintaining optimal oral health. Only a few general dentists are a perfect fit for you and your family. However, by patiently identifying the services they offer, you can choose a dentist with whom you are comfortable and give your family a place to maintain healthy teeth and smiles. At Washington Dental, we are committed to providing the best services to those seeking general dentistry services in Carson, CA. Contact us today at 310-217-1507 for the best procedures that will fix your dental problem.