The vast majority of the 198,517 individuals practicing dentistry in the United States are general dentists. A general dentist is someone with knowledge of the different practices of dentistry. Unlike specialists that focus on unique aspects of oral health, a general dentist focuses on a diverse set of practices. A general dentist is dedicated to their practice and work hard to make sure that their patients are plaque and cavity free.

By definition a general dentist is a licensed oral practitioner specialized in surgical and nonsurgical oral treatments. A dentist can help treat oral pains, diseases, and other issues pertaining to the health of the teeth and gums. Dentists practice preventative treatments to prevent tooth decay which may lead to gum or dental diseases and may affect other regions of the body.

If you follow the recommendations set out by the American Dental Association (ADA) on the frequency of dental visits, then you probably visit your dentist at least twice a year. The ADA provides that to maintain good oral health everyone should visit a dentist as often as need or at least every six months for cleaning and regular check-ups. A general dentist takes preventatives measures to maintain a good oral health and prevent the need for oral surgery.

Our oral health affects more than just our mouth. Bacteria and sugars from food particles that are left to sit for a prolonged period of time develop into plaque. Plaque is often colorless or has a tint of yellow and forms along the tooth and gum line. Plaque releases an acid that affects and permanently damages the enamel (the outer layer of the tooth). Once fractured bacterial acids can penetrate the dentin (the layer beneath the enamel) down to the pulp (the central nervous system of the tooth). Once the pulp is infected, the patient will require the attention of their dentist.

A general dentist takes certain preventatives measures to prevent the build-up of plaque and other bacteria that can affect the health of the teeth and gums. To discuss any oral concerns with a dentist, you may contact The Downey Dentist at 562-746-0350.

More often than not, you will see your dentists for regular preventative cleaning and maintenance procedures. However, you should feel free to talk to your dentist about any oral concerns you may have.

General Dentist Practices

  • Cavities
  • Check-ups/Dental Cleaning
  • Crowns and Bridges
  • Dental Implants
  • Mouth Pieces
  • Oral Surgery
  • Root Canal Procedure
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD)
  • Difference between the DDS and the DMD

General Dentistry Information

Cavities

Cavities should have a more serious name like ‘dental destroyer’ or ‘permanent tooth damage’. Cavities are formed when we allow plaque to develop on our teeth. When plaque is left to sit, the sugars from the food particles, mixed with the saliva and bacteria, produce an acid that penetrates the enamel (the hard outer part of the tooth) and the dentin (the inner softer part of the tooth). Cavities create pores on the enamel which can reach all the way down to the pulp of the tooth. Once at the pulp the individual will experience tooth pains and will require a root canal. A root canal is a treatment that takes care of a cavity that has gone too far.

To prevent cavities, you need to avoid sweets and if you do eat sweets, you need to make sure you get rid of all the sugars while you brush and floss. When you let the sugars and bacteria sit on your teeth it can cause bad breath and lead to other oral diseases that are much worse than a cavity. Oral diseases along with cavities cause permanent damage to the gums and teeth. Often if the problem remains unaddressed, it may require plastic surgery and dental implants to be able to show our teeth again. To avoid these issues, you are encouraged to keep up and inform yourself about oral health. Bad oral health is a global issue that affects children, adults, and older individuals.

Check-Ups

Check-ups are an essential part of maintaining good oral health, they help keep our teeth clean, gums strong, and most importantly, it lets your dentist identify and address any oral serious concerns. A dental check-up along with a cleaning should be a bi-yearly habit that you should not avoid. When we fail to visit the dentist for a regular visit, we begin to develop deposits of plaque that can create cavities and cause bad breath.

When you come in for a check-up and cleaning procedure, you will meet with two different people.

First, you will meet with a dental hygienist for a cleaning routine. Each tooth will be brushed, flossed and polished. The teeth cleaning process otherwise known as the prophylaxis is the process of removing plaque and build-up to prevent tooth decay, oral disease, tooth loss, and loss of gums (periodontitis). During your visit, plaque and tartar will be removed. Tartar is the plaque that has sat between teeth and along the gumline for a prolonged period of time. Tartar is a calcified porous deposit that may only be removed with the help of dental equipment. If you notice tartar building up between your teeth, you may want to consider a visit to the dentist. Tartar causes permanent damage to the structure of the tooth which is why immediate action must be taken to prevent further tooth decay. The impacting effects can result in the loss of your teeth where you may need reconstructive surgery to achieve the same smile. To prevent build up and maintain good oral health you will want to keep up with the regular cleaning of your teeth, that means brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. To learn more about proper brushing and flossing you may read the section below (NAME).

The second part of your dental visit will consist of a thorough examination of your teeth, the health of your gums, and any signs of bacteria build up. The dentist will take note of any swelling or irritated red tissue that could be possible signs of oral infection or oral cancer. Bacteria can cause gum disease known as periodontal (gum) disease that may result in the loss of teeth. Gum diseases weaken and loosen teeth making them more prone to breaking or chipping. What's worse is that gum disease causes gum recession and bone loss which may only be treated through oral surgery. Having a regular checkup can help prevent plaque from forming into tartar and causing serious harm to your oral health.

Crowns and Bridges

A crown is a piece of porcelain or metal that goes around the tooth to protect the dentin and inner part of the tooth. Since enamel does not ever repair, a crown acts as a tooth and prevents bacteria from reaching the inner part of the tooth. Crowns can only be removed in an office as they are securely cemented. A crown can be placed on a tooth whenever a tooth has experienced some damage to the enamel or whenever a patient requires a bridge. A crown acts as an anchor to the bridge holding it in place.

A bridge is a piece of tooth that can be made of metal or porcelain and is placed between teeth where a gap is found. More often than not, a patient will choose a traditional bridge which is when both adjacent teeth to the gap are crowned to support a bridge. In a traditional procedure, both teeth are filed down to make room for the crown. The traditional bridge is very secure as it anchors on to teeth on both sides. However, there are different methods that allow bridges to anchor on to different teeth. The downside is that bridges require a crown to anchor to. When a crown is installed the enamel is worn down and it will always require a crown. In other cases, an implant can be used as an anchor for the bridge. If you have an implant and there is a gap right next to it, you may consider a bridge anchored to your dental implant. If you have a gap in your teeth, you may want to speak to your dentist about a dental implant or a bridge to take care of the gap. Bridges are made to feel comfortable and made to look natural.

Dental Implants

Individuals with healthy gingiva (gums) and a healthy jaw bone may consider dental implants as opposed to crowns and bridges. Dental implants are made of porcelain and metal. The metal implant is made of titanium so it is crucial to report to your dentist any allergies you have towards metals. Our dentists ensure that you are not allergic to metals before every dental implant procedure to secure the success of osseointegration. Osseointegration is the binding of the bone and metal that occurs when the implant is properly placed on the bone.

The dental implant consists of three parts, the implant (which is the metal portion that acts as the root of the tooth), and the abutment (the part that connects the crown to the implant) and the crown (which can be made out of metal or porcelain). As mentioned earlier, a dental implant has many benefits including the feeling of a more secured tooth. Additionally, the process does not require the filing down of the adjacent teeth as with a crown or a bridge. To learn more about dental implants and their benefits over traditional bridges and dentures, you may want to speak with a dentist.

Mouthpieces

Custom made mouthpieces are made to fit the dimensions of your jaw and the slant of each tooth. The process involves biting down on a mold that preserves the shape and size of the teeth. Mouthpieces are commonly used after braces are removed to preserve the formation of the mouth. In addition, custom-made mouthpieces may be used for teeth whitening procedures.

Oral Surgery

Oral surgery may be required to remove a tooth that has been badly infected or to place a dental implant. Oral surgery involves the process of breaking through the soft tissue in the mouth to extract, clean, or implant. Oral surgery may also be required before a dental implant procedure to reconstruct the soft tissue and bone that have been worn away.

Root Canal Procedure

The inside of the tooth is called the pulp and it is where the nerves and blood cells of the tooth are located. When the pulp of the tooth is infected a root canal procedure is required to prevent tooth decay. An infected tooth pulp that is left untreated may cause infections and diseases that can spread to other parts of the body. A root canal procedure can save the tooth, but it will no longer be living and it will hold a higher chance of fracture. When a root canal cannot save your tooth, you may consider dentures, dental implants, or a dental bridge.

During the root canal procedure, the tooth is hollowed out, cleaned and then sealed. By drilling the tooth, the dentist removes the infect pulp and immediately seals the tooth to prevent build up. Unfortunately, the seal is not meant to last a long period of time. After the tooth is sealed most patients have a crown placed on their tooth. A crown helps keep the tooth bacteria free. Other alternatives include a more durable seal, however, dentists have found that a crown has a longer success rate. Each procedure is different and not all teeth require a crown. To learn more about the options available after a root canal you may speak to your dentist.

Contact Our Downey Dentist Near Me

To maintain good oral health, you should visit your general dentist for regular checkups at least twice a year. During a checkup, your dentist will examine your oral conditions and take the correct measures to prevent infection or disease. Oral health is important and it may impact our overall health. To speak to one of our highly skilled staff members or to schedule a visit, you may reach The Downey Dentist at 562-746-0350.