General dentistry is the primary care of teeth and gums. A general dentist is the first line of defense to prevent oral health problems. A variety of procedures are performed in general dentistry including cleaning, applying sealants, periodontal therapy, dental fillings, root canal therapy, oral surgery, dentures and bridgework.
Dental cleaning is especially beneficial in prevention of oral health problems. Dental cleanings are recommended every six months by the American Dental Association (ADA). Regular dental cleaning keeps teeth free from plaque build-up and stops oral problems before they begin. A cleaning is generally accompanied by a complete oral examination, including X-rays to get a clear visual view of overall oral health.
Sealant treatment is applied as a plastic resin material. The material is applied to the chewing surface of posterior teeth. This is a preventive treatment to keep plaque and food from getting into grooves and pits of teeth that are easy targets of decay.
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss for adults. In general dentistry, early diagnosis of periodontal disease helps maintain the health of teeth and gums. Gingivitisred, swollen and tender gumsis the earliest stage of periodontal disease. The general dentist performs nonsurgical treatment at the beginning signs of gum disease to ward off lasting damage.
A dental fillings repairs damage to the structure of a tooth. Structural damage occurs from tooth decay, wear or trauma. A tooth may be filled with a variety of materials including gold, amalgam (mercury alloy), composite resin or porcelain. A general dentist consults with patients on the best filling material for them and the benefits of each.
Root Canal Therapy
A general dentist performs restorative measures such as root canal therapy. In a root canal procedure, infected pulp tissue is removed from the root chamber of the tooth by hollowing it out. Then the hollowed tooth is filled with antibacterial filling and the tooth is capped for protection.
Oral surgery consists of extractionremoval of a tooth or teeth that cannot be saved. Extracted teeth are replaced with a bridge or dental implant. A general dentist also performs crown lengthening oral surgery. This is performed for people with a gummy smile, where gums extend far down over teeth. This surgical treatment adjusts the amount of tooth protruding from the gums.
Dentures and Bridgework
When too many teeth are missing from the mouth, dentures are a logical option in oral health care. Dentures restore smile, biting and chewing ability. Full dentures slide over the gum and are held in place by cheek, lips and tongue muscles and denture affixation creams. A partial denture replaces a group of missing teeth. Partial dentures fill in the gaps, so to speak. Bridges are for single or multiple missing teeth. A bridge links the missing tooth or teeth to a bridge in an effort to cover over gaps of a missing tooth or teeth. Bridges may be fixed or removable. They are strong and resemble natural teeth.