You cannot overlook the importance of healthy teeth and gums. Your body consists of interlinked systems, and what takes place in one system affects other systems. Safeguarding your oral health begins at home with proper dental habits and regular dental visits. Your overall health is our priority at Washington Dental. The skilled Washington Dental dentistry team can work with you to realize your most beautiful and healthiest smile. Regardless of the general dentistry service you require, you can expect the same level of dedication to excellence our practice is renowned for.
What is General Dentistry?
American Dental Association (ADA) defines dentistry as analysis, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of dental conditions and diseases.
The most prevalent dental care providers are general dentists. Typically, they provide restorative and preventive services like teeth cleaning, sealants, cavity fillings, and x-rays. They treat patients of all age groups.
Unlike other specialists, who pay attention to one dentistry area, a general dentist offers a wide range of procedures and treatments. For instance, an endodontist is qualified to treat tooth pain, especially root canal. While some patients consult a general dentist for a root canal, others might visit an endodontist if their condition needs specialized root canal treatment.
General dentistry is hands-on practice. The dentist requires four (4) years of highly accredited education after completing their bachelor's degree. The intensive education allows the dentist to gain skills and in-depth scientific knowledge of the field.
Services Offered in General Dentistry
Most general dentists use a combination of specialized care, including primary dental care treatment, oral surgery, and restorative services. Some services offered include:
While permanent teeth should last a lifetime, some reasons might necessitate tooth extraction. These reasons include:
- A tooth that is severely damaged from decay or trauma
- Crowded mouth — From time to time, a dentist might extract a tooth to prepare your mouth for orthodontia. The dental procedure aims to align your teeth, which can be impossible if the teeth are too large for the mouth.
- Infection— Should tooth damage or decay extend to your pulp, bacteria in your mouth might enter your pulp, resulting in infection. Typically, the condition is fixed using root canal therapy. However, if the infection is too severe, you might require tooth extraction to stop the spread of the infection.
- Finally, if periodontal disease has led to tooth loosening, it is essential to pull your tooth.
Before extracting your tooth, the dentist will numb the region where your tooth will be removed by injecting you with local anesthesia.
If your tooth is impacted, your specialist will cut away bone tissue and gum covering your tooth. Then they will grasp your tooth with forceps and gently loosen it from your ligaments and jaw bone. Hard-to-pull teeth should be extracted in pieces.
After your tooth extraction, a blood clot might form in your socket. Your dentist will pack a gauze pad into your socket and have you bite on it to aid stop bleeding. Then your dental expert will place self-dissolving stitches to close your gum edges over your extraction area.
Preventive Oral Services
Are you wondering how to keep your mouth clean and healthy? Prevention is the answer. Preventive services focus on taking care of the teeth and keeping them sparkling. Some of the recommended practices include:
- Brush your teeth daily using fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush three times a year or once the bristles begin to fray. Remember to brush your tongue. It gets rid of bacteria in your mouth and freshens the breath.
- Flossing is also essential. It cleans out the spaces between your teeth. During your dental appointment, request your general dentist for a quick flossing demonstration to ensure you are getting the most from flossing.
- Eating a balanced diet also helps protect your teeth by offering them the necessary nutrients. Drink a lot of water, limit sugar intake, and eat a varied diet.
Irrespective of your age, several procedures happen in the dental office. Your dentist might recommend having the teeth cleaned. Tooth cleaning prevents periodontal disease and ensures the gum tissue is healthy. Cleaning not only makes your mouth feel clean but also prevents plaque from progressing and later damaging your teeth.
Most oral diseases don't have apparent warning signs. Consequently, your general dentist might use one of the following diagnostics to detect damage and hidden ailments early:
- Dental x-rays — It helps diagnose damage or disease that is invisible during your dental examination. While dental x-rays should be taken during your routine exam, how often they are taken depends on your age, your oral health, and the risk factors for the disease.
- Oral cancer screening — Oral cancer starts with the development of abnormal carcinoma cells and leads to cancerous lesions. It might develop in your mouth, gums, tongue, palate, throat, mouth floor, cheeks, and lips. If not treated early, the disease can be life-threatening. It would be best if you underwent oral cancer screening at least once a year.
- Gingivitis screening — Also known as mild gum disease, gingivitis happens when your gums become inflamed. The condition's prevalence is higher as patients age.
Teeth straightening moves and aligns your teeth into the correct position according to your bite using external pressure or force with time. Its purpose is to improve your dental health by correcting teeth gaps, underbites, overbites, crooked teeth, deep bites, crossbites, open bites, among other flaws in your jaw and teeth.
Advantages of teeth straightening include:
- Cleaning between your crooked teeth may be difficult, leading to gum disease and tooth decay.
- Improves your gum health, leading to defense against gum disease
- It helps you chew food well, which is essential for proper digestion
- Improves facial appearance by lifting your mouth upwards. It makes you look younger and your skin firmer.
Your general dentist can use one of the options below to get the teeth straightened:
- Braces — They are used to align your crooked teeth. They also fill the gap between your teeth. They're deliberately placed on applying the right amount of pressure on your teeth and moving them into the right position. Typically, braces should be used for a maximum of two years. Nevertheless, your treatment's duration depends on the kind of braces and goals.
- Aligners are custom-made mouthguards that slip over the teeth, bringing them in the right position after repeated wear. Unlike braces, they aren't visible on the teeth. You can remove them when eating.
- Retainers are wire-based devices that you should wear overnight after your treatment to make sure your teeth stay in their corrected position. While patients could use them without braces, this only works in persons needing the least teeth correction.
A cavity filling is a medical treatment for teeth damaged by decay. It restores the tooth to its shape and functionality while preventing more decay. It is a common procedure at the dental chair, so you should not worry, mainly if you maintain a proper flossing and brushing routine.
The general dentist uses a tiny mirror to analyze the surface of all teeth. They will also check whether there is anything abnormal like sensitivity to temperature or discoloration using an x-ray. Your treatment will hinge on the form of cavity filling of your choice and level of damage.
The most suitable type of cavity filling depends on allergies to the filling material, the cost, the location of your cavity, and allergies to filling material. Some of the most common filling materials include:
- Gold fillings are cemented into your gum tissues and can last for approximately twenty years. This option requires several visits and is expensive.
- Silver (amalgam) fillings are cost-effective and resistant to wear. Since they are dark in color, they are not the perfect choice for visible regions.
- Composite resins resemble your natural teeth. Unlike other forms of cavity fillings, they can strain and are less durable.
- Porcelain fillings are custom-made in the laboratory and later bonded to the tooth. They look like your tooth's color and are stain-resistant.
When you receive a cavity filling, you will be given local anesthesia to numb the region. Then the dentist will drill through your enamel to remove decay. The dentist will use a low-speed drill after reaching the dentin. Then the general dentist will then shape the space and prepare it for the filling. They could use a liner or base to protect your tooth's pulp.
If the dentist is placing a bonded filling, they'll first etch your teeth with an acid gel. Etching makes small holes in your enamel that the composite material fills as your professional places the filling.
Sometimes the light is used for hardening cavity fillings.
Finally, the general dental expert will use burs to polish and finish your filled tooth. Sharp edges could remain following your appointment, but your dentist can fix them during your follow-up dental visit.
Tooth bonding involves the dentist applying a composite resin to your teeth to repair the damage. It is a considerably cost-effective solution than many cosmetic procedures like veneers and crowns.
Additionally, the procedure does not require several dental visits and anesthesia unless you have a cavity to fill.
The general dentist will choose a composite resin color that matches the natural teeth’ color. The specialist roughens the tooth's surface before applying a liquid that permits the bonding agent to stick to your tooth. The composite resin is applied over the liquid and then hardened using ultraviolet light. Sometimes, the dentist can shape your tooth further once the resin hardens.
Tooth bonding fixes imperfection or defects within your tooth. You can use it to repair discolored, cracked, or decayed teeth. It also closes tiny gaps in between the teeth.
Moreover, it can increase your tooth's size.
Typically, the procedure takes approximately thirty to sixty minutes. However, some appointments might take longer, depending mainly on the degree of the medical process.
Zoom Teeth Whitening
Are you frustrated by teeth that look yellow or gray? Do you pull back when you laugh so that people do not see your teeth? While maintaining a daily routine can play a significant role in keeping your teeth healthy, this is not necessarily the case with some people.
Whether it is medication, diet, or trauma that caused your discolored or stained teeth, that doesn't mean you cannot get your natural luster. One of the most effective options is zoom teeth whitening.
The good thing about zoom teeth whitening is that the general dentist can complete the procedure quickly.
First, your dentist will shield your gums and lips, protecting them from getting bleached. The dental expert will then apply a whitening gel to the teeth. Your dental expert will apply the gel about four times in intervals of fifteen minutes. The gel is formulated using hydrogen peroxide. A special light is used to assist the gel in penetrating your enamel and emitting oxygen into your dentin.
The teeth could be sensitive following your treatment. It could last between twelve and twenty-four hours.
Before undergoing the process, your dentist might recommend that you get the teeth cleaned. The cleaner the teeth are before the zooming whitening process, the better your outcome.
After the treatment, you cannot drink or eat certain foods until 72 hours pass since it might interfere with your whitening.
A root canal involves the removal of inflamed, infected, or injured pulp. It is the most practical method to preserve your tooth's structure.
Some of the causes of damage to your pulp include:
- An injury to your tooth
- A crack or chip in your tooth
- Deep decay stemming from untreated cavities
- Several dental procedures on a single tooth
Common symptoms of a damaged pulp include tooth swelling, pain, and sensitivity to heat.
How Root Canal is Performed
The procedure is performed in your dentist's office.
- Your dentist will inject a local anesthetic into the gums. While you will stay awake during the procedure, the dental anesthesia will stop you from feeling pain.
- Then the general dental expert will make a tiny opening in your tooth's top. After your damaged or infected pulp is exposed, your specialist will remove it using files.
- The dentist can coat your region with an antibiotic to get rid of the infection and stop reinfection. After your canals are cleaned, your specialist will fill and seal your teeth using gutta-percha and a sealer paste.
- Finally, your general dentist will fill your tiny opening on your tooth's opening using a temporary material. The sealant prevents canal damage by saliva.
What to Anticipate at Your General Dentist
It would be best if you did not dread your dental visit. Your dentist wants to assist, and they will try to ensure the visit is as seamless as possible.
They can break up dental work into several visits, so it isn't a lot in a single sitting. There are also options for sedation or pain relief during the procedures.
And you can watch your favorite TV show or movie.
Before Your Appointment
Plan early; it reduces anxiety. When scheduling your dental appointment, inquire how long the examination or cleaning will take and then add some time to it. You will be in the office longer if it has been long since the last visit.
If you've medical coverage, confirm whether your specialist is in the network before booking your appointments to save a few bucks. You might have to pay a copay, or the office could bill you your balance once the insurance provider pays it. If you do not have coverage, find out the expected cost early.
On the appointment day, get to the office early, submit your paperwork, and allow the receptionist to set your appointment up. Remember to carry your driver's license.
Your Medical History
Before any procedure is conducted, your dentist should know about your medical history if this is your first appointment or if you have been to the dental practice, any changes in your health like pregnancy, diabetes, arthritis, or new medication. It is also essential that the dental expert knows about your health concerns, allergies, and anxieties. It helps avoid accidents and ensures you receive the dental care you deserve.
Your Routine Dental Visit
Your hygienist will cover the chest using a paper or plastic cloth. You might be asked to put on eye shields.
You will see ultrasonic equipment and metals. The expert uses them, working your tooth, to remove tartar or plaque along your gum line and on your surfaces. They might also floss between the teeth.
Should you experience pain or the jaw hurts during the cleaning, notify your hygienist. You may have rest breaks when you require them.
Once that is done, you should rinse your mouth well. With a tool with a spinning head, your hygienist will polish your teeth and then rinse your mouth again.
Generally, you will have x-rays annually to identify challenges that are difficult to see.
Your hygienist should bring a specialist in to conduct a thorough examination, checking all teeth and searching for gaps or pockets between your gums and teeth.
Finally, your dentist will discuss with you the results and the next course of action.
Your First Dental Visit
If it has been long since your last dental visit, you should expect identical dental care as your routine visit and a few extras.
New appointments and dental visits after a few years require imaging tests with x-rays. Your professional wants a comprehensive look at your teeth, supporting bone structure, and gums.
If you have sensitive teeth, talk to your dentist about numbing options to reduce pain before starting the work. The longer a patient waits between their visits, the harder tartar builds up around their gum line and teeth. While having tartar and plaque removed might be uncomfortable, the clean feel of the teeth and fresh breath is worth it.
When your dentist probes the teeth and searches for pockets in your gums, it might bleed and hurt. However, the pain should not last long.
Do not be overwhelmed when the dental expert identifies problems. You can fix them with the dentist's assistance.
Following Your Visit
If the mouth is sore, you could take pain relievers.
Contact your dentist between visits if your jaws swell, the tooth hurts, or you have questions. An issue such as broken teeth is an emergency. Be sure to alert the dentist straight away.
Follow-Up Dental Care
If your teeth and gums are healthy and robust, you should get an examination and cleaning twice a year. Hinging on what your dentist discovers during the exam, they will recommend a personalized treatment plan.
To fix challenges, the patient should return sooner than they would for their routine visit.
They might require fillings to seal cavities in their teeth before they become more prominent. For more severe tooth decay, crowns surround and cover the core of their damaged tooth, ensuring their tooth root is in place. The cap is cemented in place to feel and look like the natural one.
Veneers, shaping, and cosmetic bonding may improve the look of your discolored or broken teeth. Inquire from the dentist about different options for boosting your smile.
If your dentist discovers swelling or infection in your tooth's root, you might require a root canal. The treatment consists of opening your tooth and disinfecting its inside.
The dentist can recommend replacing your damaged or missing teeth with bridges or implants. Bridges bridge the gap between your missing teeth when attached to implants or healthy teeth on either side. On the other hand, implants are titanium screws that go into the jawbone and function as anchors for crowns.
How Often Should You Visit Your Dentist?
While visiting your dentist after every six months is a rule of thumb for most people, the reality is that you've your own unique dental needs. Therefore, it depends mainly on your medical conditions, habits, and oral hygiene.
That means persons with a higher risk of dental ailment and other health conditions should visit the dentist more than twice a year. They include:
- Persons with a weak immune system
- People vulnerable to plaque build-up or cavities
- Persons suffering from periodontal disease
- Expectant mothers
- Cancer patients
- Those with cardiovascular diseases
You can keep the dental visits to a minimum by maintaining proper oral hygiene. Therefore, ensure you brush your teeth twice daily. Also, clean between the teeth with floss, oral irrigator, or interdental brushes.
Find Competent General Dentist Near Me
When you make more than two dental visits a year, you protect yourself from toothaches, tooth loss, and high-end dental procedures. Typically, general dentistry services are tailored to keep your natural jawbone, gums, and teeth healthy using the latest advances in the dental industry. Whether you want to replace your dentist or just moved to Lomita, or don't have a regular dentist, the experienced team at Washington Dental can provide you and your loved one a lifetime of oral comfort and health. We treat all patients like family. We can advise you of home oral care and assist you to realize a beautiful smile. To book your initial free consultation and get your concerns addressed, contact us today at 310-326-5183.