You might be surprised how many services are offered by your family dentist. In fact, the term “general” dentistry can actually be a little misleading, because your general dentist actually specializes in a wide range of common dental procedures — from basic to highly sophisticated treatments!
Common Dental Procedures
Whether you’re keeping up on your oral health with regular exams and cleanings (great job!), or visiting the dentist for a toothache, chronic ailment, or other issues, here are some of the most common procedures offered by a family dental practice:
Your first visit to a family dentist will include a comprehensive dental exam. Your dentist will make a detailed inspection of your teeth and mouth, review X-rays, and go over any problems or issues you’ve been experiencing. He or she will work with you to develop a specialized treatment plan for oral health.
To keep up on your oral health, you’ll also receive routine and thorough dental exams going forward, typically every six months or year.
Part of regular dental exams and other treatments, X-rays (otherwise known as radiographs) are used by your dentist to look for potential problems and track progress. The most common X-ray procedures are bitewing X-rays — primarily used to detect tooth decay, bone loss, gum disease, and infection — and panoramic X-rays, which offer a broader view of your teeth and jaw to check for impacted teeth, bone abnormalities, tumors, and more.
Worried about the effects of X-rays? Many modern dental practices like The Happy Tooth, our North Carolina dental offices, use digital x-rays for improved care and reduced exposure to radiation for client safety.
Cleanings (or dental prophylaxis), typically scheduled every six months, are performed by a licensed dental hygienist and are one of the most common (and important) dental procedures. During a routine cleaning, your hygienist will clean your teeth by “scaling” away built-up calculus (commonly known as plaque) and stains and polish them with special instruments. The polishing paste is often available in multiple flavors, so your teeth will truly be “minty clean.”
Your hygienist will also make note of any cavities or potential issues in your chart, which will then be evaluated for treatment by your dentist.
Cavities (often referred to by dentists as caries) are one of the most common dental problems, typically treated with one of the most common dental procedures: fillings. If your dentist determines you need a filling, he or she will remove the decayed part of the tooth and use a composite, tooth-colored material to fill the cavity. This procedure will involve some degree of anesthetic and often, for the patient’s added comfort, some form of sedative.
Crowns, Bridges, and Dentures
Crowns, bridges, and dentures are some of the most common restorative treatments offered by a general dentist. If your dentist determines that long-term decay or damage requires tooth restoration or replacement, a crown (essentially a restorative “cap” for your tooth) or bridge may be necessary. Full and partial dentures are also available. Like fillings, crowns, bridges, and denture treatments require anesthetic (with sedation available, as well). To learn more about the wide range of crown, bridge, and denture options and materials, click here.
Are there options for tooth replacement besides dentures? Yes! One of the most exciting advances in modern dentistry is the development of dental implants, a stronger, more comfortable and natural-looking (not to mention permanent) alternative to dentures. Learn more about tooth replacement options.
We’ve covered just six of the most common dental procedures offered by your general dentist. There are many, many more restorative and cosmetic treatments available, depending on the range of services offered. Our North Carolina family dentists in Cary, Chapel Hill, and Mount Airy, for instance, offer additional dental services including dental implants, veneers, teeth whitening, and more!