General dentistry refers to the regular care that you get on routine visits to the dentist. These services help to keep your teeth and gums healthy. They also allow your dentist and dental hygienist to identify, diagnose and treat you for oral health conditions such as gingivitis. In some cases, general dentistry services identify diseases of concern, including diabetes and oral cancer. Most people need general dental care such as tooth cleanings and dental checkups every six months for optimal oral health.
Tooth cleanings remove the stains and plaque that regular tooth brushing at home cannot remove. During a tooth cleaning at the dentist’s office, the dental hygienist uses small tools to scrape plaque and tartar off of your teeth. The hygienist works around each tooth, paying special attention to the area where the tooth meets the gums and the places between your teeth where food often gets trapped. Next, your teeth are polished using a special toothpaste. Finally, the hygienist flosses your teeth. These cleanings help to reduce your risk of a cavity or the development of gum disease. They also help your teeth to stay brighter and whiter. The hygienist can also show you proper brushing and flossing techniques. Regular cleanings are especially important for:
- People with braces or other orthodontic appliances
- People with gum disease or other chronic diseases
- Women who are pregnant
Preventive Dental Checkups
Dental checkups are often performed at the same time as cleanings. During a checkup, the hygienist and dentist will examine your soft tissues for signs of oral cancer. If you have any dental restorations such as caps or crowns, they will be checked for structural integrity. The dentist may also check how your teeth fit together. Dental X-rays may be taken once every year or two during a checkup. The purposes of the checkups are to:
- Detect changes in soft tissue in your mouth
- Identify signs of gum disease
- Detect cavities
Fillings for Cavities or a Chipped Tooth
Visiting the dentist every six months allows for the early detection of a cavity. If a cavity is not caught in its early stage, the decay could advance all the way to the root, requiring a more intensive treatment. When a cavity is still small, a filling can be used to restore the structural integrity of the tooth. Fillings are usually done in a single visit to the dentist. They may be made from amalgam or composite materials. Composite fillings are made to match your tooth.
Who Needs General Dentistry Services
Everyone benefits from an oral health checkup and cleaning of their teeth. Once a child gets his or her first tooth, it is time for that first checkup with the dentist. Even if a person has lost many of his or her teeth or has dentures, checkups help to ensure that there are no gum disorders or other oral diseases present and that the dentures fit properly.