Your general dentist is as important to your general health and well-being as your primary care physician. If you follow the recommendations of the American Dental Association regarding dental check-ups and cleanings, you may see your dentist more than you do your doctor. General dental visits are an integral aspect of promoting lifelong oral health. The team at Hampton Dental Associates, SC offer a variety of general dentistry services in a friendly office that invites patients to sit back and relax while we help them attain their healthiest smiles.
What Services Does General Dentistry Include?
General dentistry encompasses a wide variety of services, which fall into three categories.
Preventive dentistry services are focused on helping you maintain a healthy smile. These services include routine exams, x-rays, cleanings, and professional treatments that help you avoid tooth decay. During routine visits, the dentist and hygienist can discuss ways to better promote oral health and even demonstrate brushing and flossing techniques to achieve that goal. The dentists will check your mouth for oral cancer, perform TMJ joint assessments and check how your bite is working. Doing a thorough evaluation of your chewing and the status of your existing fillings and crowns will help preserve your bite and your chewing for a lifetime.
Restorative services are performed when a dental problem has been found. Restorative procedures include treatments like fillings, dental crowns, root canal therapy, and tooth replacement procedures. The objective of restorative care is to restore a damaged tooth or damaged gum tissue to optimal health and integrity. Doing so in the most comfortable manner can reduce discomfort and stress and also prevent further injury to oral health.
This level of General Dentistry helps us restore teeth to their ideal. If teeth have been filled many times or if there are cracks, chips or worn edges, the dentist must restore these to ideal to prevent your teeth from shifting, errupting to an unnatural position or wearing at a more accelerated rate. If people grind their teeth or have worn down teeth, this may be a symptom of occlusal disease. Occlusal disease is when teeth hit much too hard and it can lead to cracks forming, teeth splitting or hurting and doing an assessment can help identify these problems. That is when crowns or protective covering will be discussed. If you hit a nail with a hammer and it continues to go sideways-it becomes very difficult to fix. If we find problems with teeth while they are small, it will help us to fix them in the least expensive and most conservative fashion. Rehabilitation is restoring teeth to ideal with crowns, veneers, implants or whatever is required to promote health.
Other important topics include:
Overall Oral Health
General dentistry isn’t just a matter of oral health, our dentists are also well-equipped to identify and explain how dental health relates to general health. General dental exams assess what is happening in the mouth, but the dentist can then describe how what is happening in the mouth may affect the body. This kind of communication can empower every patient to know exactly why it is so important to handle dental problems as quickly as possible, and to maintain a healthy mouth through routine preventive visits.
How Many Times A Day Should I Brush My Teeth?
The American Dental Association guidelines state that we should brush twice a day. More specifically, we should brush twice a day for two full minutes each time. During your cleanings, our expert hygienists will counsel you on the best way to clean and maintain your teeth. They will discuss remineralizing agents, mouthwashes, and toothpaste and even discuss types of water-piks and electric toothbrushes for ideal hygiene.
How Often Should I Floss?
Flossing is an action that should be performed once every day. It can be helpful to floss after brushing at nighttime, since several hours of sleep can allow bacteria to build up in between teeth and along the gums.
How Often Should I Visit The Dentist?
Routine exams and cleanings are usually scheduled every six months. Studies indicate that, in most cases, it takes several months for a cavity to form or for gum tissue to become inflamed or infected to the point of detection. Maintaining routine dental visits is advantageous for the prevention of dental conditions that could require restorative care.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
Dental x-rays are safe and necessary. During a dental exam, x-rays are what allow the dentist to evaluate structures that are situated beneath the gums, such as the roots of teeth, the jawbone, and developing teeth in children. Dental x-rays enable the dentist to review oral health development and detect problems that have not yet become evident in the visual exam. While x-rays do emit some radiation, advances in technology have reduced that to the bare minimum. The American Dental Association claims that the radiation exposure that occurs during dental x-rays is minimal in comparison to the exposure we all face on a regular basis. Annually, the average person is exposed to about 620 mrem of radiation. Dental x-rays account for only 2.5 percent of that exposure.
I'm Afraid Of Seeing The Dentist. What Can I Do?
It's not uncommon to feel some degree of anxiety when you see the dentist. This can be especially true if you don't see the dentist until you have a painful problem. We're committed to making every appointment as pleasant as possible. If your fear of seeing the dentist tends to keep you from scheduling your routine exams and cleanings, please give us a call! We believe in the Golden Rule and we abide by this whenever we're working with a patient. We treat you the way we would want to be treated. This alone has helped many people relax more readily around receiving dental care. That said, we take your needs seriously, and we know that dental anxiety can inhibit you from seeing us. With that in mind, we've equipped our office to provide nitrous oxide or oral conscious sedation. We're happy to talk with you about these services and how either can help you find freedom from your fears around dentistry! Even when you first come in you will be greeted and feel at ease from our amazing staff!
What Is Gum Disease And How Can I Prevent It?
You may have heard of gingivitis, gum disease, and periodontal disease. These are all infections that progress from one to the next. Gum disease begins as inflammation that we refer to as gingivitis. I like to describe it as having a sliver of wood under your fingernail-it's red and puffy and hurts but once the sliver is removed you get complete healing! This inflammation can be reversed if you come to see us early enough by doing a thorough cleaning and improving home care. Signs of gingivitis include redness, bleeding when you brush, and bad breath. The same symptoms continue if your gingivitis progresses to gum disease which we call periodontitis. At that point, though, you might also notice that your gums look puffy or that they pull away from your teeth. Gum disease doesn't affect the entire mouth all at once. You may develop infection and gum recession around just one or a few teeth. With proper care that involves a deep cleaning of your teeth, gums, and affected root areas, we can minimize the damage caused by infection and prevent further damage from occurring. Periodontal disease that progresses is called advanced gum disease. When we measure the bone levels of your mouth and the measurements are 6 millimeters or more it is considered severe and that has spread farther beneath the gums, where infection threatens to damage the periodontal ligament and jawbone.
The prevention of gum disease is one of the cornerstones of general dentistry. Here, we educate you on the various ways that you can mitigate the risks that contribute to inflammation and infection in the mouth. The primary steps in preventing gum disease are brushing and flossing. Brushing morning and night for two full minutes helps prevent the accumulation of plaque and tartar around teeth. Flossing every day removes debris and plaque from areas between your teeth. We will always ask you to floss before you go to bed so food isn't left between your teeth at night. Additionally, at your regular dental visits, which should occur every six months, your dentist will remove any calculus that is present.
What Can I Do For A Toothache?
When you experience tooth pain, your mind may immediately assume that you have a cavity. This could be true but there are several reasons that tooth pain may occur. It may be that you clench or grind when you sleep and this habit is wearing down your enamel. It could be that you have something stuck between two teeth. In any case, the best course of action for any type of tooth pain is to see the dentist. How much better would it be to see the dentist and discover a minor issue is causing pain than to ignore a toothache and eventually require restorative treatment like a filling or root canal?
What Can I Do For Sensitive Teeth?
Tooth sensitivity is pretty common. Fortunately, it doesn't mean that you have a pressing dental problem that requires care. Often sensitivity is something that you manage with various remedies. Suggestions for doing this include:
- Use only soft-bristled toothbrushes. This can help reduce enamel erosion.
- Use toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. This may cover your enamel in a thin, protective barrier.
- Talk to your dentist about clenching and grinding. If you do this when you sleep, you may benefit from wearing a nightguard. This special, comfortable mouthpiece decreases the pressure on your teeth and nerves.
- Schedule a dental examination and have your dentist check your gums. Tooth sensitivity may be reduced by treating gum recession.
Are General Dentistry Appointments Covered By Insurance?
Yes. Generally, dental insurance covers two preventive visits every year for each patient on the plan. Patients are encouraged to contact their insurance provider directly to understand the specific coverage benefits that are available to them.
Are Manual Toothbrushes Or Electric Toothbrushes Better To Use?
Electric toothbrushes were first developed more than 50 years ago. Since that time, the debate regarding the efficacy of manual toothbrushes and electric toothbrushes has continued. Why, we’re not sure. Studies clearly indicate that there are advantages to electric toothbrushes over manual types, and even over sonic toothbrushes.
Studies have found that people who use an electric toothbrush experience less tooth decay and gum inflammation than those who brush manually. In one review of clinical data of more than 5,000 people, researchers found that powered toothbrushes reduced instances of plaque at one to three months by 11 percent. The same review determined that, after three or more months, people using electric toothbrushes had 21 percent less plaque than those who brushed manually.
Regardless of the type of toothbrush you use, it is important that you brush twice a day, every day, and that you floss daily. Additionally, the pressure that is placed on your teeth and gums is important to manage. Brushing too hard with any toothbrush could result in gum recession.