What Is a General Dentist?
The most common dentist is a general dentist. In fact, approximately 79% of all dentists in the US can be considered general dentists and some wonder what general dentists do. We learn to perform most dental procedures except for very complicated advanced dental procedures which require additional training, degrees or certifications. General dentists serve on the front line of diagnostic and preventative procedures for the public. We can diagnose and recognize the early stages of dental disease in the patient’s mouth and treat the disease before the condition progresses too far. We partner closely with our patients to educate and help them with their oral hygiene homecare regimen, which in turn will prevent disease in the future. We believe that healthier results for patients’ oral conditions will occur when they also invest in their own dental health.
Can a General Dentist Perform an Extraction?
General dentists learn how to perform extractions and gum or oral surgery. Some dentists love it and perform frequent surgeries, while other dentists focus only on cosmetics and refer the surgeries to other dental providers. It’s all a matter of preference.
Can a General Dentist do Implants?
Any general dentist can perform the placement of dental implants, although it is advised to have had additional implant surgery training from an accredited advanced learning center. Once again it’s a matter of preference.
Direct Restoration Materials
Direct restorations are repairs made inside the mouth (e.g., cavity fillings). These restorations are also usually placed within one office visit.
- Composite is a tooth-colored, adhesive bonding material made of acrylic resin. Composite is one of the most common restorative materials for cavity fillings, dental bonds, inlays, and veneers.
- Amalgam is a mixture of up to 54 percent mercury with silver, tin, and copper. This material is commonly used to restore back teeth (premolars and molars).
- Conventional Glass Ionomer (CGI) is another tooth-colored restorative material. Glass ionomer is not as durable as amalgam or composite. CGI can effectively restore front teeth, including incisors and canines. Dentists do not restore back teeth, such as premolars and molars, with glass ionomer.
- Resin-Modified Glass Ionomer (RMGI’s) are similar to conventional glass ionomers, but with more strength and added acrylic resins. RMGI is only used to restore baby teeth.
What Do General Dentists Do?
Of an estimated 143,000 dentists practicing in North America, some 80 percent are general dentists. Unlike specialists, who are mostly focused on a particular aspect of dental practice, general dentists provide a wide array of services that are vital to your continued health, including:
- Preventive services — These help you maintain good oral health by stopping disease before it takes hold in your mouth. Regular exams (including diagnostic images such as x-rays) and professional teeth cleanings are a cornerstone of prevention. Your general dentist may give you detailed instructions to improve your at-home oral hygiene, and may also recommend preventive treatments such as sealants, if needed. And if you lead an active lifestyle, you can be fitted with a custom-made mouthguard at your dentist’s office.
- Restorative Services — When a problem is found, your dentist will ensure you get timely and appropriate treatment. Probably the most common (and highly effective) dental restoration involves removing tooth decay and placing a filling in the affected tooth. But that’s not the only restorative procedure general dentists provide. They offer you a place to go when you need prompt treatment for dental trauma—for example, a broken, loosened or knocked-out tooth. General dentists can diagnose and treat the causes of tooth pain or periodontal (gum) disease. They may also offer treatments for missing teeth, place crowns or bridgework, and help you get fitted with dentures. Some provide more advanced treatments, such as root canal therapy, orthodontics, and dental implants, as well.
- Cosmetic Procedures — Many general dentists can help you get the sparkling smile you’ve always wanted with a range of cosmetic procedures. These include teeth whitening, cosmetic bonding—even porcelain veneers. If a brighter smile is what you’re looking for, ask your general dentist about a smile makeover.
- Overall Health Concerns — In many respects, your oral health can be seen as a mirror of your general health. Some dental problems may reflect issues in other parts of your body, and vice versa. For example, untreated oral infections can lead to poorer control of diabetes, an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, and complications during pregnancy. General dentists are trained to identify these and other issues, and offer appropriate treatment or referral when needed. One special concern is obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially deadly condition that can sometimes be treated with an oral appliance. General dentists can also offer nutritional counseling, advice on tobacco cessation and general health and wellness information.
Dental Public Health Clinics
Dental public health clinics promote dental health through organized community efforts. The clinics serve to educate the public through group dental care programs with the goal of preventing and controlling dental diseases on a community-wide basis. Dental public health clinics offer such services as finding a dentist, developing dental care programs for schools, providing information on fluoridation in the community, answering common questions about oral health, and providing other oral health resources and support materials to their community.
An endodontist is the dental specialist concerned with the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth. This specialist may perform simple to difficult root canal treatments or other types of surgical root procedures.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist
A radiologist is the oral health care provider who specializes in the taking and interpretation of all types of X-ray images and data that are used in the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region.
How much education is required to become a general dentist?
To become a general dentist, three or more years of undergraduate college education degree (typically with a strong science foundation) plus four years of dental school is required. After graduating, dentists must take a licensure examination which is required by the state in which they practice.
What’s the difference between DMD and DDS?
Just one letter! Both dentists receive the same education and complete the same curriculum requirements. DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery and DMD stands for Doctor of Dental Medicine.
Why does my dentist belong to the AGD?
Your general dentist cares about long-term dental health for you and your family and demonstrates that concern by belonging to the AGD. Members are dedicated to continuing education to help them stay up-to-date on the latest procedures to provide you and your family with quality treatment.