While cosmetic dental treatment is super exciting and restorations are undoubtedly life-changing, these popular dental practices would not be possible without the vital role that general dentistry plays. Without general dentistry, we would be much more limited in our ability to enhance smiles and support oral health; in fact, the dental industry as a whole would be quite different.
So, what exactly is general dentistry? Here’s a quick overview:
At its core, general dentistry is all about preventative care. By catching problems early and keeping a close eye on the overall health of your mouth, we can help you avoid more serious issues down the road. The field focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of oral health conditions and diseases. It is the foundation upon which all other dental specialties have followed. As the backbone of the industry, our Fairfax, VA team considers general dental care to be one of the most important services that we offer.
To learn more about general dentistry or to schedule a preventative appointment, contact our team today!
Cleanings & Exams
Fun fact! Did you know that dental cleanings are also called prophylaxis? Prophylaxis is defined as action taken to prevent or protect from disease. So, by getting regular dental cleanings, you are preventing oral diseases! While you can always brush and floss at home, the work performed by your dental hygienist goes far beyond that. The mouth is home to millions of bacteria, and some of these can cause serious problems if they get into your bloodstream; this not only wreaks havoc on your mouth, but the rest of your body as well! During a typical cleaning, your hygienist will:
- Remove bacterial accumulations of any plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from your teeth
- Polish your teeth to remove any surface stains
- Floss your teeth to remove any debris between them
Once your teeth are sparkling clean, we will perform an examination and take x-rays of your mouth. Thanks to advancements in modern medicine, we utilize digital radiography to take x-ray images that are quick, clear, and accessible within seconds! This allows us to get a close look at the teeth, roots, gums, and jawbone and detect any problems that may be developing. If we do find anything, we will develop a treatment plan to get your mouth healthy again!
Dental cleanings and examinations are an important part of maintaining good oral health. By getting them every six months, you can help prevent serious problems from developing and keep your smile shining bright!
Unlike an abrasion on your skin, the tooth is not able to heal itself or regenerate following damage. Instead, the repair requires the work of a dentist in order to restore health. While this makes the teeth sound quite fragile, the opposite is actually true. Teeth are designed to withstand a lot of wear and tear, and they do so quite admirably in most cases. In fact, the entire outer structure of the tooth is composed of enamel—the strongest substance in your entire body. While the anatomical design of teeth is quite impressive, they are not indestructible; even enamel has its weaknesses.
Dental decay is a process in which the tooth enamel is slowly eroded away by acids. These acids are produced when bacteria in your mouth break down sugars and other carbohydrates. When the enamel is eroded away, it exposes a deeper layer of the tooth, known as the dentin. The dentin is not as strong as the enamel, and is, therefore, more susceptible to damage. Once the erosion reaches the dentin, decay can spread quickly, causing extensive damage to the tooth.
If dental decay is left untreated, it can eventually lead to tooth loss. In addition, the bacteria that cause dental decay can also enter the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body, leading to serious health problems. Therefore, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible if you suspect that you have dental decay.
There are several things that you can do to prevent dental decay, including:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing daily
- Eating a balanced diet and limiting sugary snacks
- Visiting your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings
If we find that you have decay, we will treat the tooth using a tooth-colored filling. After removing the area of decay and cleaning the tooth, we will fill the area with a strong, durable composite material. The composite material is matched to the color of your teeth so that it is virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the tooth. The filling will not only improve the tooth’s appearance but restore its natural function as well.
Root Canal Therapy
If a tooth has suffered extensive damage or decay, a root canal procedure may be necessary to save the tooth. This is because the bacteria in the mouth is no longer just on the surface of the tooth but has actually compromised the interior structure. In little time, this can quickly cause an infection to spread through the root canals, surrounding tissues, and even the neighboring teeth. A root canal is a treatment that removes the damaged or decayed portion of the tooth, as well as any bacteria that may have infiltrated it. The interior of the tooth is then cleaned and sealed to prevent further damage. The details of this procedure are as follows:
- The first step of a root canal is to numb the tooth and surrounding area with local anesthesia. Once the patient is comfortable, the dentist will access the interior of the tooth by making a small hole in the top of the tooth.
- Next, the infected interior of the tooth is accessed and removed. This may involve all tissues, nerves, and blood vessels in the center of the tooth. Once all of the infected material is removed, the dentist will clean the area to ensure that all bacteria have been eliminated.
- The next step is to fill the tooth with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. This seals off the root canal and prevents further infection.
- To finalize the procedure, the tooth is sealed with a dental crown. This restores the tooth to its original shape and strength and protects it from further damage.
While root canals have a reputation for being painful, this information is simply outdated. Thanks to modern dental techniques and anesthesia, most people report little to no discomfort during a root canal procedure; in fact, the procedure actually relieves pain rather than causing it.
If you think you may need a root canal, or if you have any questions about the procedure, don’t hesitate to contact our office today!