What is general dentistry?
General dentistry is the art and science of fixing damaged teeth and diseased gums. General dentistry includes dental procedures like fixing tooth cavities, treating infected gums, and removing infections from the oral cavity. Going to a dentist regularly is a must in this day and age. We're living longer than ever before. Unfortunately, we're also consuming more processed sugars than ever before. Many of us grind our teeth due to the daily stress of life. As a result, our teeth crack and break. We develop tooth cavities and oral infections. Our gums recede and we develop gum disease. General dentistry aims to reverse these damages and keep your teeth and gums in a healthy and happy state. With the help of your dentist, you can maintain strong teeth and healthy gums for life. The sooner you establish a relationship with a trusted, local dentist, the fewer dental problems you will face in old age.
What are some common general dentistry procedures?
General dentistry refers to a wide variety of dental treatments. Common general dentistry procedures include tooth fillings, crowns, root canal therapy, and even tooth extractions. Here's a bit more information about each one of these common general dentistry procedures:
Just about all of us will have a few dental fillings in our mouths by the time we're old. Fillings are used to fix small to medium-sized cavities, small cracks, and other minor dental defects. By regularly visiting your dentist, you can capture dental problems in their early stages when they can be fixed with a filling. To learn more about dental fillings and the different types of fillings available, click here. Unfortunately, once cavities become too large, a simple filling is not likely to solve the problem. Let's look at more advanced denatl treatments required for more advanced dental issues.
Crowns are another common general dentistry procedure with lots of implications in dentistry. You need a crown when your tooth is too far damaged to be saved with a simple filling. Placing a crown on the tooth helps restore the teeth to their original shape. This is the ideal treatment for teeth with large cracks or large cavities. Crowns protect your teeth from breaking more and developing an infection. To learn more about crowns and how they restore your damaged teeth, click here.
Root Canal Therapy
When cavity bugs infiltrate the tooth nerve, you develop a tooth infection. At this point, it's too late to fix your tooth with a simple filling or even with a crown. Your only option to save an infected tooth is to perform a root canal treatment. Root canal therapy removes the infection from your tooth and at the same time, saves the infected tooth. To learn more about root canal treatment and how it can eliminate your tooth infection, click here.
If a bad tooth is left untreated, you will eventually lose the tooth. Losing one tooth can lead to the loss of more teeth in the future. This is why dentists always recommend that you try to save your tooth whenever possible. When it's not possible to save the tooth any longer, you need to remove the tooth and replace it with a dental implant or bridge. Missing teeth create large gaps in your mouth that lead to a series of problems that affect the entire mouth. Not only do you now have one less tooth to chew on, but you have to over-compensate by placing additional pressure on the remaining teeth. This leads to biting problems, increases the likelihood of tooth fracture, stresses your TMJ, and leads to other dental and skeletal problems. To learn more about tooth extraction and when it's best to have your teeth removed, click here.
Good Oral Hygiene
There is no substitute for good brushing and flossing habits. Brushing and flossing your teeth on a daily basis goes a long way in protecting your teeth and gums. It's just as important to brush and floss regularly as it is to do it correctly. Be sure that you're not brushing or flossing too quickly or using too much force. Take your time to clean your teeth and don't rush through it. If you have gum disease, you may have to use special hygiene instruments like a Waterpik, interproximal cleaner, medicated mouthwash, or special oral pastes recommended by your dentist. Talk to your dentist if you are uncertain about your oral hygiene routine or if you need advice on how to improve your oral hygiene techniques.
Healthy Diet & Lifestyle
- Processed sugars are the main cause of dental cavities and a major precursor for gum disease. Limit your sugary intake, especially processed sugars found in candies, chocolates, and sodas.
- Smoking is very detrimental to your oral health. It's best to avoid all tobacco products including chewing tobacco and vaping. Tobacco decreases blood flow to the mouth and damages your teeth and gums.
- A healthy body and mind go a long way in maintaining your oral health. Heart conditions, uncontrolled diabetes, acid reflux, and many other major medical problems can directly impact our oral health. A healthy body oftentimes correlates with a healthy mouth and vice versa.
Regular Checkups & Cleanings
Paying regular visits to your dentist helps maintain healthy teeth and gums. It also helps capture dental problems in their early stages. The sooner you treat a dental problem, the less time and money you will have to spend fixing it. For instance, a small cavity can usually be fixed with a filling. However, if you neglect to fix the cavity, it continues to grow and eventually requires a crown. From there, the cavity enters the tooth nerve causing pain and infection. Now your tooth requires a root canal treatment. You may even have to remove the tooth and replace it with a dental implant. As you can see, the sooner you address essential dental problems, the easier it is to fix them. This explains why regular dental checkups and cleanings are so beneficial to your oral health.
What is holistic dentistry?
Holistic dentistry, also known as biological dentistry, is an approach to dental care with a focus on the overall well-being of the body. Holistic dentistry involves minimizing the use of metals, mercury, and other dangerous toxins in the mouth. This brand of dentistry is a great option for those suffering from metal allergies, fibromyalgia, and other autoimmune conditions. Those who haven't fared well with traditional non-holistic dentistry may also want to explore a more holistic approach. Let's take a closer look at some ideas that create the cornerstone of holistic dentistry:
Metal-Free Tooth Fillings
Traditional silver fillings, known as Amalgam, contain mercury which is a known toxin. While there is no concrete proof that mercury inside silver fillings causes any medical conditions, many believe that it's best to avoid silver fillings altogether. Metal-free dental fillings are made from resins and composites that do not contain heavy metals or mercury. Holistic dental fillings are both safe and effective, plus they look much better than their silver counterpart!
Metal-Free Crowns & Bridges
Traditional dental crowns, known as porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns (PFM), contain porcelain on the outside with metal on the inside. The inner metal layer is necessary to provide strength and support for chewing pressure since porcelain alone is too weak to withstand bite forces. However, the metal alloy may cause allergic reactions in some patients. Others are against the heavy use of metals inside of your body. Holistic dentistry firmly believes that these types of metals are not good for your health. Metal-free crowns are made from zirconia-based ceramic. Zirconia contains no traditional metals and it is superior to PFM crowns in terms of strength, function, and aesthetics.
Ceramic Dental Implants
Some holistic dentists even offer metal-free dental implants. Now you can now replace your missing teeth with 100% metal-free zirconia dental implants. Metal-free implants are made entirely from zirconia with no traditional metal alloys. Your entire implant, including the implant post, abutment, and implant crown, is made from zirconia. Note that due to limited production, metal-free dental implants come at a premium price. However, for those who are seeking holistic dental care, ceramic dental implants are definitely worth the price.
To learn more about different general dentistry procedures, click on the following links:
Definition of General Dentistry Terminology
A pus pocket containing harmful bacteria that forms around infected teeth. Teeth with abscesses are considered infected and they either need root canal treatment or must be extracted.
Amalgam (silver filling)
Material used to fill dental cavities. Amalgam is silver colored and contains Mercury. As a filling material, Amalgam is durable and effective. However, there are some concerns about the safety of using Mercury to restore teeth.
Refer to premolar tooth please.
Canine tooth (cuspid or eye tooth)
A strong, pointed tooth with a single cusp is used to direct other teeth as we chew side-to-side. Canine teeth are very strong and typically outlast all other teeth as we age. We have 4 total canines, teeth numbers: 6, 11, 22, and 27.
A hole inside a tooth is created by harmful cavity bugs. Dental cavities can cause slight tooth sensitivity, particularly to cold and sweets. They can also be asymptomatic. If left untreated, dental cavities infiltrate the tooth pulp and cause abscess and infection.
Composite resin (white filling)
Material used to fill dental cavities and broken teeth. Composite resin is safe, effective, and matches your tooth color. Cosmetic dentists prefer using composite resins to other filling restoration material due to their natural appearance.
A large restoration that replaces the majority of your tooth structure above the gum line. Crowns are used to fix teeth that can no longer be salvaged with a simple filling. Crowns are typically made from gold, porcelain-fused-to-metal or ceramic material.
Refer to cavity please.
Deep cleaning (scaling & root planning)
A type of dental cleaning that focuses on removing plaque and tartar underneath your gum line. Deep cleanings are used to treat gum disease. Most deep cleanings are performed in multiple sessions and oftentimes require anesthesia.
Teeth cleaning performed by your dentist or hygienist. Dental cleaning focuses on removing plaque and tartar which can’t be removed by brushing or flossing alone. Dental cleanings are categorized as simple cleaning or deep cleaning.
The middle portion of your tooth which is located above the pulp and underneath the enamel. Unlike enamel, dentin has nerve endings which makes it sensitive to tooth decay.
Removable, false teeth are used to replace your missing natural teeth. Dentures are made from pink and white acrylic. The pink portion secures your dentures in place and the white segment replaces your missing teeth. There are many different types of dentures including full dentures and partial dentures.
The very hard outer portion of your tooth. In fact, tooth enamel is the hardest tissue found in our bodies. Enamel protects your tooth from cavities and provides it with the strength to cut and chew food.
Material used by dentists to replace missing tooth structures. Fillings are used to fix dental cavities and broken teeth. Fillings are made from gold (mostly obsolete), Amalgam (silver filling), or composite resin (white filling).
Full Denture (Complete denture)
A set of false teeth which replaces all of your teeth in one arch. Full dentures are held in place by the suction they provide against your gum tissue. Full dentures are typically made from pink and white acrylic.
The earlier stage of gum disease. Gingivitis is characterized by bleeding gums, bad breath, and minor tooth sensitivity. If left untreated, gingivitis progresses to the more advanced stage of gum disease known as periodontitis.
Gum Disease (Periodontal disease)
Disease of the gums and jaw bone. Gum disease is caused by the spread of harmful bacteria to your gum and jaw bone. Gum disease causes bleeding gums, bone loss, and tooth loss. Gum disease is categorized as gingivitis and periodontitis.
A tooth that is trapped underneath your jaw bone. Impacted tooth typically refers to wisdom teeth, although other teeth can also be impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth usually need to be removed. Other impacted teeth need to be removed, monitored, or uprighted by your orthodontist.
The frontmost four teeth in your upper and lower jaw. Incisor teeth are used to cut food particles. We have 8 total incisors, teeth numbers: 7, 8, 9, 10, 23, 24, 25, and 26.
Spread of harmful bacteria into your tooth nerve. Once cavity bugs reach your tooth nerve, the tooth is now infected. Infected teeth can only be fixed with a root canal or you must remove the tooth completely.
A type of crown that is a hybrid between fillings and crowns. Inlays are essentially conservative crowns that protect teeth similar to a crown but are conservatively similar to a filling. Inlays are smaller than onlays and do not encompass your outer tooth walls.
Teeth that are located in the back of our mouth have four cusps. Molar teeth are large and used to crush food particles. We have 8 total molars, teeth numbers: 2, 3, 14, 15, 18, 19, 30, and 31. Additionally, some of us have 3rd molars or wisdom teeth which are teeth numbers: 1, 16, 17, and 32.
Refer to pulp please.
A device worn at night to protect your teeth against grinding. Night guards help reduce tooth fractures, TMJ pain, and headaches. There are two types of night guards, generic night guards which you purchase online or from a local pharmacy, and custom night guards which your dentist makes for you.
A type of crown that is a hybrid between fillings and crowns. Onlays are essentially conservative crowns that protect teeth similar to a crown but are conservatively similar to a filling. Onlays are larger than inlays and encompass at least one or more of your outer tooth walls.
A set of false teeth that replaces some, but not all, of your missing teeth. Partial dentures are held in place by anchoring to your remaining teeth as well as suction against your gum tissue. Partial dentures can be made from different materials including metals, acrylic, and flexible resin.
Refer to gum disease please.
The more advanced stage of gum disease. Periodontitis is characterized by bone loss, major tooth sensitivity, and loose teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis causes your teeth to loosen and fall out. Plus, the resulting infection can spread to the rest of your body and affect your overall health.
Premolar tooth (bicsupid)
Transitional teeth between our front and molar teeth. Premolars have two cusps and are used to crush food particles. They are also the teeth most commonly removed for braces treatment. We have 8 total bicuspids, teeth numbers: 4, 5, 12, 13, 20, 21, 28, and 29.
The innermost tooth layer that lies underneath your dentin. Your tooth pulp contains nerves and blood vessels. When your tooth pulp becomes damaged this results in a toothache. Once this happens, you require a root canal treatment or you must remove the tooth.
Pulpotomy is the equivalent of a baby root canal. It entails removing the nerve structure from infected baby teeth. Performing a pulpotomy eliminates toothache while allowing your child to keep the tooth itself in order to prevent potential orthodontic complications.
Root canal treatment
A procedure to remove infected tooth nerve to eliminate pain and infection. During root canal treatment your dentist will disinfect your tooth and replace the missing nerve with sterile material known as Gutta Percha. Root canal treatment eliminates pain and infection and allows you to keep the tooth.
Scaling & root planning
Refer to deep cleaning please.
A preventive treatment used to protect children’s teeth. Dental sealants are placed on teeth with deep groves, typically molars, to protect them against tooth decay and infection. Sealants are very effective and safe and do not require any tooth structure removal.
Techniques used to calm patients with anxiety during dental treatment. There are many different sedation techniques in dentistry such as Nitrous Oxide, oral conscious sedation, IV sedation, and general anesthesia.
Refer to Amalgam please.
A dental cleaning performed in absence of gum disease. Simple cleanings typically entail basic tooth scraping and polishing, occasionally with Fluoride treatment. Most people require a simple cleaning once every 6 months, although if you’re suffering from gum disease you need one every 3 to 4 months.
Refer to wisdom tooth please.
Refer to composite resin please.
Wisdom tooth (third molar)
Tooth which is located all the way in the back of your mouth. Wisdom teeth start erupting in your late teens or twenties. Not everyone has wisdom teeth. For those that do, there’s a high probability that you have to remove these teeth. Otherwise, they will cause pain, swelling, and infection.