The one health care provider you see more than any other throughout your life may very well be your general dentist. A general dentist can treat patients of all ages, and they're qualified to perform procedures that address a wide array of oral diseases and dental problems.
A general dentist is your primary dental care provider. A general dentist diagnoses, treats, and manages your overall oral health care needs, focusing primarily on preventative care and treatment of issues relating to your teeth and gums.
According to the American Dental Association, 80% of the 202,000 dentists in the United States are general dentists.
All practicing general dentists have earned either a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree from a school of dentistry. There is no difference between the two degrees or the curriculum requirements that dentists must meet — some schools simply award the one degree, while other schools award the other.
Generally, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is required to become a general dentist. Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist.
General dentists provide a wide array of services, including:
Preventative services. These services help you maintain good oral health by stopping disease before it takes hold in your mouth. Regular exams, including diagnostic images such as x-rays, fluoride treatments, and professional teeth cleanings are a cornerstone of prevention. Your general dentist may give you detailed instructions to improve your at-home oral hygiene, and may also recommend preventive treatments such as sealants, if needed. If you play sports or grind your teeth, your general dentist can fit you with a custom-made mouthguard to prevent tooth damage.
Restorative services. The most common dental restoration provided by general dentists involves removing tooth decay and placing a filling in the cavity in the affected tooth. General dentists also place crowns and bridges, fit patients for dentures, diagnose and treat gum disease (periodontitis), and treat dental traumas, such as cracked, broken, or knocked-out teeth. Some general dentists provide more advanced treatments, such as root canal therapy, dental implants, and orthodontics.
Cosmetic dentistry procedures. Many general dentists can help you get the sparkling smile you’ve always wanted with a range of cosmetic procedures. These include teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, cosmetic bonding, and clear aligners.
Overall health concerns. In many respects, your oral health can be seen as a mirror of your general health. Some dental problems may reflect issues in other parts of your body, and vice versa. For example, untreated oral infections can spread elsewhere in the body, and have been linked to serious medical complications including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and issues during pregnancy. General dentists are trained to identify these and other medical problems, and offer appropriate treatment or referral when needed. One special concern is obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially deadly condition that can sometimes be treated with an oral appliance. General dentists can also offer nutritional counseling, advice on tobacco cessation, and general health and wellness information.
Aaron C. Polk, D.D.S. Dentistry strives to make visits friendly, convenient, and comfortable. During a routine visit, the general dentist will conduct an oral health examination, and may order dental X-rays. They'll discuss any symptoms the patient may be experiencing, as well as findings from the examination.
If a dental problem is discovered, your general dentist will discuss treatment options. They'll also provide you with information on how to maintain optimal oral health.
At Aaron C. Polk, D.D.S. Dentistry, we offer comprehensive and compassionate general dentistry services to patients of all ages. Our trusted and friendly staff will provide best-in-class dental care, and we'll ensure that your visit is a pleasant one. When it comes to our patients, we have one goal in mind: giving you the healthy, beautiful smile you've always wanted!
If it's been six months (or more) since your last dental visit, or if you're experiencing problems with your teeth, gums, mouth, or jaw, contact us today to book an appointment.