Understanding the Specialties of General Dentistry

General dentistry covers the extensive work done on all sections of the jaw, teeth, bones and surrounding areas. It is very common to experience tooth loss, leading to difficulty eating and talking and loose teeth. Gum disease is also common with people over the age of forty. This process can take many different forms. From a simple pocket to a serious infection, the longer you wait to seek treatment, the worse your condition will become. 

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The word dentistry comes from the Greek words “dent” meaning tooth and “iatros” meaning root. General dentistry covers many different procedures that fall into this category such as braces, tooth extraction, dental implants, dental veneers, etc. Below you will find an outline of some of these more popular procedures. 

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Cosmetic Dentistry: A cosmetic dentistry procedure involves the treatment of defects or irregularities in the teeth, bite or structure of the jaw. This type of dentistry falls under continuing education requirements. For example, in order to perform certain cosmetic procedures such as veneers or crowns, the dentist must obtain continuing education credits every two years. Students pursuing a career in cosmetic dentistry will often complete a 2-year undergraduate degree program at an accredited university or college as well as a one or two year degree from a university or college that offers a course of study that includes the application of basic science to the field of cosmetic dentistry.

Continuing Education: It is extremely important for dentists to continue their education in order to keep abreast of new techniques, prevent problems and improve procedures. A perfect example of this is with the advancements in technology that has allowed for the creation of digital images, which are extremely valuable for the dentist. Digital images can be used to study tooth decay, gum disease and how plaque builds up. Dental fillings also can be performed on patients with decay or gingivitis, which are all continuing education areas for the dental professional.

Computers: As mentioned above, computers play a large role in the cosmetic simulation process. Computers have allowed dentists to model different aspects of a patient’s mouth and even perform treatment planning on the computer, which is a huge time saver. Computer generated image processes are used in everything from digital X-rays, to 3D reconstruction, to computer generated imagery. In fact, there are even programs available that allow dentists to design and create full color sculptures using dental models. There have even been cases where the use of these types of software has allowed dentists to design and create the skeletal frame of a tooth that is needed for the surgical treatment of a severely decayed tooth.

Technology in Other Areas: While computer generated images are very advanced in many facets of dentistry, they are not limited in the types of things that can be accomplished. In fact, some dentists have found that the application of such technology in other areas of dentistry can be used as part of the treatment planning process. For example, many specialists utilize Computer Aided Design (CAD) design to create detailed plans of what a patient will look like after certain procedures. They can then work directly with the patient to make sure that all aspects of the procedure go as planned. The same technology can also be used to create the skeletal frame of a tooth, allowing specialists to perform some of the simplest restoration work.

Oral Surgery: Just as in the realm of pediatrics, orthodontics and other specialties, oral surgery is growing in popularity among those of us in the field of General Dentistry. In fact, many of our most popular procedures are performed in dentistry offices. Some of these procedures include cosmetic dentistry (blepharoplasty, crown lengthening, tooth whitening and laminectomy), corrective dental surgery (to treat gum disease, wisdom teeth removal, and facial deformities) and implant dentistry (to replace missing teeth with a permanent tooth replacement). There are even some cosmetic procedures that allow oral surgeons to manipulate and reshape the structure of the face without the need for surgery. This allows for individuals to achieve the appearance they desire without undergoing the type of invasive surgery that is commonly associated with the term “oral surgery”.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of specialties available to those in the field of General Dentistry. It is important to note that some of these specialties require additional training and education, as do many of the general dental procedures we described above. Still, when it comes to oral health care and taking care of your teeth and overall mouth, nothing beats the help of a good general dentist. After all, they are the professionals who know how to keep your smile looking its best. If you’re interested in learning more about dental care in general, or just experiencing a dental office for the first time, you should find an experienced professional to help you find the perfect solution for your oral health care needs.