General dentistry encompasses preventive oral care as well as the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases or conditions that affect your mouth and the surrounding areas, including your jaw, neck, face, and head. Although you may mostly associate general dentistry with everyday procedures like the treatment and prevention of cavities, general dentists are often the first health care providers to spot more serious oral or maxillofacial problems, such as the early signs of mouth or throat cancer. For most patients, twice-annual dental cleanings and exams form the foundation of preventive general dentistry care and optimal oral health. It’s during these appointments that your dentist can catch and treat cavities, gum disease, and other problems before they develop into something more serious.
General dentists are highly educated and trained to perform a variety of dental services. Although routine cleaning and exam appointments are a major part of their day-to-day work, general dentists provide a wide range of services, including:
Although cosmetic dentistry is technically considered a separate area, general dentists can also usually perform a wide range of cosmetic dental procedures, such as veneers, bonding, and in-office teeth whitening.
Routine cleanings and exams provide several important benefits, including:
Preventing cavities: If you already take the time to brush and floss twice daily, chances are you’re doing a fairly good job of preventing the buildup of plaque, the sticky film that leads to tooth decay. Regular dental care helps ensure that your own dental hygiene skills are up to par, and makes it more likely that you’ll continue your good habits.
Preventing tooth loss or gum disease: When plaque is allowed to build up between cleanings, it can harden into tartar, a substance that only a dentist can remove effectively. Plaque buildup and tartar are major causes of gum disease and tooth loss, which is another reason why getting regular dental care is so important.
Brightening your smile: Your dentist has the skills and tools required to remove months of built-up stains in a single professional cleaning. If you like to drink coffee, tea, or red wine, regular dental care can help keep your teeth white and brighten your smile.