Some people waste weeks or even longer trying to make a toothache go away on their own. Toothaches can be managed with a variety of over-the-counter pain killers and tooth pain products, but the pain will continue to reoccur until the root cause is treated.Many who postpone having a dentist treat their toothache are not…
General Dentists – Anything But “General”
According to DentalPlans.com, of the nearly 150,000 dentists practicing in North America, approximately 80% are general dentists. Though routine visits to family dentists often consist of exams and X-rays, a general dentist offers so much more than general services.
General dentists focus on prevention and maintenance
Unlike orthodontists and other types of dental professionals, who generally focus on specific aspects of dentistry, general dentists provide a wide array of oral health services. However, it is estimated that approximately 65% of those services have to do with the diagnosis and prevention of disease. By performing routine examinations, conducting thorough cleanings and emphasizing at-home oral hygiene, family dentists help to prevent the progression of oral disease, which, if left untreated, can result in missed work, missed school and extensive medical bills.
Though a large part of what a general dentist does is perform exams and cleanings, these procedures are hardly the only treatment a dentist provides. Below are a few of the more common services one can expect a general dentist to offer.
Because general dentists emphasize maintaining good oral health above all else, the number one type of service most provide is of the preventative variety. Preventative dental services include X-rays, exams and cleanings. Dentists perform X-rays and exams to diagnose existing oral health issues, while they provide cleanings to prevent the buildup of plaque, which can lead to more extensive issues such as tooth decay and gum disease. In addition to exams and cleanings, family dentists may recommend more inclusive preventative solutions, such as sealants and mouthguards.
Though general dentists do not offer the comprehensive cosmetic dental solutions cosmetic dentists are trained to provide, many can help patients achieve whiter, brighter smiles of which to be proud. For instance, most family dentists are qualified to whiten patients' teeth, bond the teeth or even coat the teeth in porcelain veneers. If a patient's cosmetic needs are minimal, a general dentist may be able to oblige.
It is not uncommon for dental exams to reveal mild, moderate and extensive oral health issues. If an exam or X-ray reveals a problem, the dentist will deliver appropriate and timely treatment. Some types of restoration services general dentists provide include fillings, crowns, bridgework and even dentures. Family dentists can prevent cavities from turning into full-blown decay and tooth loss; stave off or reverse the progression of gum disease; restore a broken, chipped or lost tooth; and alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by oral health issues.
Preserve overall health
General dentists may focus solely on the preservation of oral health, but in reality, the work they do goes a long way toward maintaining patients' overall health. Several bodies of research show that one's oral health often reflects issues in other parts of the body and vice versa. For instance, hard-to-treat gum disease is often a sign of diabetes. Untreated gum disease can lead to more severe health complications, such as heart disease, stroke and preterm labor. General dentists not only identify and control oral health issues associated with other health problems but also provide referrals where appropriate.
General dentists do much more than provide X-rays, exams and cleanings. They better patients' overall health, happiness and lifestyles.
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