General Dentistry & Preventative Care
In general dentistry, the dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of conditions, disorders and diseases affecting the teeth, gums and maxillofacial (jaw and face) parts of the body. Even though general dentists primarily provide preventative care and minor restorative therapy, they are often able to perform a wide array of other dental procedures, including some minor cosmetic treatments.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that patients visit their general dentist at least once every six months to ensure proper oral health and functionality. Regular oral health check-ups and maintenance help to prevent the development of serious dental problems that may require more extensive and costly treatments. General dentists are highly educated and trained in multiple facets of dentistry, providing a variety of different services for you and your family including:
Both natural teeth and teeth with restorations survive best in an oral environment that is clean and where the intake of harmful foods is controlled. Our program is designed to help prevent new cavities, preserve teeth that have been restored and manage periodontal disease. At the initial visit oral hygiene instructions are reviewed and are reinforced at subsequent recall visits. The following are helpful recommendations:
- Brush your teeth twice a day in a circular motion with a soft-bristled toothbrush aimed at the gum.
- Floss every night in an up-and-down motion while keeping the floss in a U-shape and against the tooth surface.
- Avoid smoking.
- Avoid sticky sugary foods.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Use antiseptic and fluoride rinses as directed.
- Have sealants placed on young permanent teeth.
Implants are synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. Implants are anchored to the jawbone or metal framework on the bone and act as a foundation for an artificial tooth or permanent bridge. In some cases, implants can be used to attach dentures.
Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth. Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth’s function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. When decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed, crowns are often used to restore the tooth.
Our goal is to help you to minimize the risk of emergency treatment. This is why we commit a generous amount of time designing a Lifetime Treatment Plan that will help you to offset the possibility of unforeseen pain or tooth breakage.
Periodontal exams are vital in the maintenance of your oral health as they are used to assess the health of your gums and teeth. They can help your dentist diagnose gum diseases, gingivitis and periodontitis. These exams can also reveal receding gums, exposed roots, tooth grinding and other problems, making periodontal exams vital to maintaining proper oral health. Regular dental exams are important as they can reveal evidence of gum disease in its early stages.
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease that causes inflammation of the gums. Dental x-rays can determine if the inflammation has spread to the supporting structures on the teeth so treatment can be started to correct the problem. Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis goes untreated, which makes periodontal exams vital to preventing and putting an end to gum diseases.
Your dentist will complete a periodontal exam with each visit, emphasizing the importance of regular, routine visits to your dentist’s office.
When X-rays pass through your mouth during a dental exam, more X-rays are absorbed by the denser parts (such as teeth and bone) than by soft tissues (such as cheeks and gums) before striking the film. This creates an image on the radiograph. Teeth appear lighter because fewer X-rays penetrate to reach the film. Cavities and gum disease appear darker because of more X-ray penetration. The interpretation of these X-rays allows the dentist to safely and accurately detect hidden abnormalities.
Your medical and dental history will be reviewed and your mouth examined before a decision is made to take X-rays of your teeth. The schedule for needing radiographs at recall visits varies according to your age, risk for disease and signs and symptoms. Recent films may be needed to detect new cavities, or to determine the status of gum disease or for evaluation of growth and development. Children may need X-rays more often than adults. This is because their teeth and jaws are still developing and because their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults.
Sealants are liquid coatings that harden on the chewing surfaces of teeth and are showing a great deal of effectiveness in preventing cavities—even on teeth where decay has begun. The pits and grooves of your teeth are prime areas for opportunistic decay. Even regular brushing sometimes misses these intricate structures on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. The sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces and are designed to prevent the intrusion of bacteria and other debris into the deep crevices on the tops of teeth.
Root canals are tiny passageways that branch off from beneath the top of the tooth, coursing their way vertically downward, until they reach the tip of the root. A diseased inner tooth brings a host of problems including pain and sensitivity as the first indications of a problem. However, inside a spreading infection can cause small pockets of pus to develop, which can lead to an abscess.
Root canal therapy is a remarkable treatment with a very high rate of success, and involves removing the diseased tissue, halting the spread of infection and restoring the healthy portion of the tooth. In fact, root canal therapy is designed to save a problem tooth; before the procedure was developed and gained acceptance, the only alternative for treating a diseased tooth was extraction.
Some cases of acute periodontal (gum) disease that do not respond to more conventional treatment and self-care such as flossing may require a special kind of cleaning called scaling and root planing. The procedure begins with administration of a local anesthetic to reduce any discomfort. Then, a small instrument called a “scaler,” or an ultrasonic cleaner, is used to clean beneath your gum line to remove plaque and tartar. The root surfaces on the tooth are then planed and smoothed. If effective, scaling and root planing helps the gums reattach themselves to the tooth structure. Additional measures may be needed if the periodontal pockets persist after scaling and root planing.
When restoration procedures such as root canal therapy, crowns, or fillings are not enough to save a tooth, it may need to be pulled, or extracted. Tooth extraction procedures today are far less painful than ever before, thanks to powerful anesthetics and sedatives. In many cases, a patient who has a tooth pulled experiences little or no discomfort, and only minor bleeding.
Patients with extracted teeth sometimes need to take an antibiotic, and at the very least, take precautions following the procedure to ensure that infection doesn’t occur. Smoking, vigorous brushing and rinsing, and drinking liquids through straws are discouraged during the post-operative period because they hinder healing and may cause the wound to open. Cold compresses applied to the outside cheek near the extraction area can help reduce any swelling and promote faster healing.
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that erupt in the back corners of the upper and lower normal adult mouth. Unfortunately, most people experience problems from wisdom teeth; in most cases, this is because the teeth erupt too close to existing permanent teeth, causing crowding, improper bites, and other problems.
Many people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted to avoid future serious problems. In general, the lack of the four wisdom teeth does not hamper one’s ability to properly bite down, speak or eat.