If you want to maintain good oral health, you will need to see a dentist on a regular basis. A general dentist will examine your teeth, as well as diagnose and treat any dental issues you might have. The dentist will also tell you how often you should see them. Some people will need to see a general dentist every six months, while others may need to go more or less often. If you have gum disease, smoke, or are prone to cavities or a build-up of plaque, you will probably need to go more often.
Along with routine examinations, here are three more services a general dentist provides.
If there is something wrong with your teeth, a general dentist might recommend a dental procedure in order to either correct or treat the problem.
Some of the most common dental procedures a general dentist performs include the following:
- Root canals. Infected pulp is removed from inside the tooth and the root canal is cleaned and reshaped.
- Tooth extraction. A tooth that is damaged beyond repair is removed from its socket.
- Fillings. The decayed part of the tooth is removed and replaced with an amalgam or resin composite.
- Tooth replacement. In instances where one or more teeth get removed, it is replaced with bridges, implants, or dentures.
General dentists also perform oral cancer examinations and minor oral surgeries.
If you are not completely satisfied with the appearance of your teeth, a general dentist can perform different kinds of cosmetic dentistry.
Some of the most common types of cosmetic dentistry include the following:
- Teeth whitening. Removes discoloration and staining of the teeth in order to make teeth look whiter and brighter.
- Dental veneers. Thin shells made from composite materials are placed on the teeth to fix slightly crooked teeth or gaps between the teeth.
- Bonding. Resin gets applied to a damaged tooth in order to repair chips and fractures and to improve its appearance.
- Enamel shaping. The enamel is filed or removed in order to reshape the tooth.
To improve the appearance of crooked teeth, some general dentists provide braces. Dentists that don't provide braces refer their patients to an orthodontist.
When a person suffers from a sleep disorder called sleep apnea, a general dentist can create a custom-made oral appliance. A sleep apnea oral appliance is similar to a retainer and gets worn at night.
The appliance helps keep the tongue in the proper position so that it does not block the upper airway. When the airway is unobstructed, it prevents breathing from repeatedly stopping and starting throughout the night.