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What is general dentistry?

General dentistry involves what most people consider “routine” dental visits. However, at Bright Smile Dental, we offer many other services as well.

A routine dental visit is the cornerstone of prevention and helps you maintain good oral health. Preventative services include a thorough examination of your teeth and gums. With some visits, this also includes radiographs. During the exam, Dr. de la Paz looks for any signs of disease, infection, and decay.

What to Expect During a Routine Dental Exam

After the exam, professional cleaning and polishing are completed. Plaque, tartar, and debris that cannot be reached with flossing and brushing are removed. This helps keep your gums healthy and reduces your chances of decay.

Other preventative services are also available. For instance, sealants, fluoride treatments, and protection of your mouth with a custom-made mouthguard are options.

During your exam, Dr. de la Paz will also provide information and education regarding your oral health. Good home oral hygiene, such as proper brushing and flossing, will be discussed. If you have early signs of periodontal (gum) disease or decay, Dr. de la Paz will offer additional suggestions to halt or reverse these issues. 

Since your oral health is a window into your overall health and vice-versa, Dr. de la Paz will also address any health concerns. For instance, diabetes increases the risk of oral infections, and oral infections make diabetes harder to control.

Dr. de la Paz understands the relationship between oral and overall health, including cardiovascular disease, pregnancy, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During your exam, he will discuss any issues or concerns with you.

If your exam reveals an issue, such as decay or gum disease, Dr. de la Paz will discuss a treatment plan with you.

What are radiographs?

Radiographs, more commonly known as x-rays, are a diagnostic and preventative tool usually performed yearly. X-rays give your dentist more information regarding damage, decay, and disease than the naked eye offers. Regular x-rays help your dentist track and monitor the progress of your oral health.

At Bright Smiles Dental, we utilize digital radiographs, which provide more detailed information than traditional x-rays. Digital x-rays are also safer, as they deliver much less radiation exposure. Even with minimal exposure, we provide additional protection with a lead apron or vest. In addition, the entire procedure is monitored by a dental professional for your safety.

There are several types of radiographs. Each captures a different angle or view, allowing a comprehensive inspection of your mouth. Dental x-rays are either intraoral (inside the mouth) or extraoral (outside the mouth). 

Most dental x-rays are intraoral. The most common, include:

  • Bitewings. These offer detailed inspection of your upper and lower teeth. They help your dentist locate decay between teeth.
  • Periapical. These provide a view of the entire tooth, including the crown, root, and surrounding bone.
  • Occlusal. These offer an excellent view of the floor of your mouth. They also help your dentist understand your bite.

Extraoral dental x-rays detect problems in the skull and jaw. The most common extraoral x-ray is a panoramic. This diagnostic image shows the entire mouth area, including both lower and upper jaws. This allows for visualization of emerging teeth, impacted teeth, and the position of fully emerged teeth. It also helps diagnose tumors.

What are dental sealants?

Flossing and brushing remove plaque and food particles from the smooth surfaces of teeth. However, they may not be as effective with the rougher parts of teeth, especially in the back of the mouth.

To protect these harder to clean areas, you may want sealants. For this treatment, your dentist will apply a thin, plastic coating onto the chewing surfaces of your teeth. This is most commonly applied to the molars and premolars, and it helps prevent tooth decay.

When applied, the sealant material bonds quickly in the vulnerable grooves and depressions of teeth. This forms a protective shield on the enamel of your teeth and “seals out” food and plaque.

Most often, sealants are placed on the molars of children. However, adults can also benefit from them, especially if they have numerous fissures or pits in their teeth. 

Application is quick and non-invasive. After evaluation and cleaning, your dentist will essentially paint your teeth with the sealant material. Afterward, the material hardens on its own. Sometimes, a special light is used to speed bonding.  

Once the sealant is dry and hardened, your teeth are protected from bacteria, acids, and plaque. The sealants can last for several years and offer protection as long as they remain intact.

What are fluoride treatments?

You’ve probably heard of fluoride. For good reasons, it is added to tap water and most kinds of toothpaste. Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent cavities by fighting harmful bacteria. It also builds strong teeth and supports healthy tooth enamel (the protective outer layer of each tooth). 

But is the amount of fluoride in toothpaste and water enough? It may not be, especially for those at high risk of developing cavities.

At Bright Smile Dental, we offer professional fluoride treatments. This helps prevent cavities by providing a much higher concentration of fluoride than water or toothpaste.

The treatment only takes a few moments to apply, and for many patients, insurance covers the cost. The hardest part comes after fluoride is applied, as you will need to refrain from eating or drinking for half an hour.

Other General Dentistry Services

Outside of preventative care, general dentists also provide treatments for gum and tooth issues.

For gum disease, you may require scaling and root planing, followed by routine periodontal maintenance.

If Dr. de la Paz finds cavities during your examination, restorative treatment will be recommended, depending on the extent of decay. For smaller cavities, we offer natural-looking composite fillings. For more extensive decay, treatment may include root canal therapy, an inlay or onlay, or a crown.

While we do everything we can to preserve natural teeth, if the damage is too severe, extraction may be needed.

For missing or broken teeth, we offer crowns, bridges, and dental implants.

In addition, we provide several cosmetic dentistry options. These services include teeth whitening, veneers, and bonding.

Come find out why our patients have so many great things to say about us at Bright Smile Dental. Call us today at (253) 475-0262 Or Schedule An Appointment Online.

We look forward to meeting you!