We often use the word “dentist” to refer to any professional who works in the field of caring for teeth and gums. In truth, there are many different kinds of dental providers. There is the general practitioner, also known as the family dentist, as well as numerous specialists. Here we turn our attention to the general practitioner and the important work that this professional does in taking care of your oral health.
A general dentist is comparative to a general doctor or family physician. This is the person who is your first line of defense when it comes to your ongoing efforts to keep your mouth healthy and free of diseases. This tooth doctor deal with everything connected to maintaining the health and well-being of the teeth and the gums. He is the one who examines your mouth to see if everything looks as it should.
When you see your dentist, he can tell more from looking inside your mouth than how healthy your teeth and gums are. Your oral health can offer many clues as to how healthy you are overall. You have probably heard about the mind-body connection? This can be thought of as being the mouth-body connection!
There is a connection between the health of your mouth and your overall level of health throughout your body. For instance, there are bacteria everywhere in your body. Your mouth is full of it. However, most of the bacteria that reside in your mouth are not harmful. The natural defenses of the body (i.e. your immune system function) and the regular oral care habits that you follow, such as brushing and flossing, are enough to maintain the levels of bacteria and prevent them from growing out of control.
There are times though when this is not enough. Infections such as gum disease and tooth decay can develop if harmful bacteria are left to its own devices. There are also other ways that the normal balance of bacteria in the mouth can be upset. Examples of these include the use of medications or various dental procedures.
When the protective barriers of the mouth have been breached, signs and symptoms of problems can show themselves. Visiting your dentist on a regular basis is important because there are things he will notice in your mouth that you may not be able to. If a problem is getting underway, he can suggest treatments that will help to prevent the condition from getting even worse.
Your oral health has a direct line to what is occurring in other areas of your body. It may affect, or be affected by, medical conditions or diseases that you have.
Pregnant women must cope with fluctuating hormone levels which can make their gums sore and can lead to bleeding. Gum disease in women who are expecting has been associated with premature births and babies born with a low birth weight.
Research suggests that cardiovascular disease, as well as stroke and clogged arteries may be connected to bacteria in the mouth. It is possibly because of chronic inflammation from a serious form of gum disease, known as periodontitis.
If your dentist diagnoses you with gum disease, the sooner a treatment can get underway to help you, the better. Gum disease and any dental work that cuts or tears the gums may introduce bacteria into the bloodstream. This is a big concern for a person who has a weak or compromised immune system or a person who has sustained damage to their heart valve because it can give rise to infection in any number of places throughout the body. For example, it can lead to endocarditis, which is an infection of the interior lining of the heart.
It is recommended that you visit your provider once every six months. If you have a condition that is being monitored carefully, you may have to go more often, such as every two to three months.
When you go to the practice for a check-up, your mouth will be x-rayed, once or twice a year. X-rays can help to identify problems that the dentist and hygienist cannot pick up on by looking in your mouth. If anything abnormal is found, this will be discussed with you during your appointment. X-rays are processed right there in the office and many practitioners will show their patients the results and will explain what is taking place.
Finding a general provider you are comfortable with can make a world of difference to your oral health care. You are more likely to schedule frequent visits with an individual you like, and one you feel that you can talk to about your concerns. Feel free to voice your opinions and to ask questions. It is your health and the more you know about the situation, the easier it will be for you to make decisions pertinent to it.
There may be times when the scope of treatment required goes beyond the skill level of the general dentist. In this case, he will refer you to a specialist who can help you further.