General dentists are the most common dental care providers. By definition, they diagnose, treat, and manage overall oral healthcare needs including cleanings and exams, gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges and preventative education.
General dentists are the main providers of dental care to people of all ages. At a routine visit to your dentist, you will probably have a thorough examination of your mouth (including teeth, gums, and other structures), a professional cleaning and a discussion about your dental (and overall) health.
What Do General Dentists Do?
Unlike specialists, who are mostly focused on a particular aspect of dental practice, general dentists provide a wide array of services that are vital to your continued health, including:
- Preventive Services — These services help you maintain good oral health by stopping disease before it engulfs your mouth. Regular exams (including diagnostic images such as x-rays) and professional teeth cleanings are a cornerstone of prevention. Your general dentist may give you detailed instructions to improve your at-home oral hygiene and may also recommend preventive treatments such as sealants.
- Restorative Services — When a problem is found, your dentist will ensure you get timely and appropriate treatment. Probably the most common (and highly effective) dental restoration involves removing tooth decay and placing a filling in the affected tooth. But that’s not the only restorative procedure general dentists provide. They offer you a place to go when you need prompt treatment for dental trauma—for example, a broken, loosened or knocked-out tooth. General dentists can diagnose and treat the causes of tooth pain or periodontal (gum) disease. They may also offer treatments for missing teeth, place crowns or bridgework and can help you get fitted with dentures. Some provide more advanced treatments, such as root canal therapy, orthodontics and dental implants.
- Cosmetic Procedures — Many general dentists can help you get the sparkling smile you’ve always wanted with a range of cosmetic procedures. These include teeth whitening, cosmetic bonding—even porcelain veneers. If a more confident smile is what you’re looking for, ask your general dentist about a smile makeover.
- Overall Health Concerns — In many respects, your oral health can be seen as a mirror of your overall health in general. Some dental problems may reflect issues in other parts of your body, and vice versa. For example, untreated oral infections can lead to poorer control of diabetes, an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease and complications during pregnancy. General dentists are trained to identify these, and other issues, and offer appropriate treatment or referral when needed. One special concern is obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially deadly condition that can sometimes be treated with an oral appliance. General dentists can also offer nutritional counseling, advice on tobacco cessation and general health and wellness information.
General Dentistry Services
Instead of specializing in one area, many general dentists are trained on all dental procedures including:
- Cosmetic procedures
- Crowns and bridges
- Dental implants
- Gum disease treatment
- Home care instruction
- Mouth guards
- Nutrition counseling
- Oral surgery
- Root canal therapy
- Teeth cleanings
When Should I See The Dentist?
Usually every six months for preventative services. But, whenever you have a concern about your oral health, you may need to see your dentist more often than that. In either case, don’t hesitate to call your dentist's office and make an appointment.
In terms of routine dental appointments, there isn’t a single schedule that fits all patients. Depending on your individual circumstances, your dentist may want to see you twice a year, every three months, every six months. Whatever it is, make sure to make your dental appointments a priority. In fact, keeping up with the recommended schedule of preventive treatment and practicing effective oral hygiene at home are the two best ways to prevent dental disease and keep you healthy.
By placing a strong emphasis on oral health and hygiene, general dentists help people avoid the progression of oral diseases. If left untreated, these eventually result in more pain and the worsening of your condition. Regular checkups to the general dentist will help you maintain good dental health and a lifetime of smiles.