Frequently Asked Questions About General Dentistry

When was the last time you saw your dentist? What kind of dentist did you see? Yes, just so you know, there are different types of dental health professionals. To be clear, anyone who completes four years in dental school and earns a degree is not yet allowed to practice the profession unless they acquire state licensure. The requirements vary from one state to the other but all states require a passing score in the National Board Dental Examinations. A dental school graduate who passes this exam will be granted a license so that he or she can practice general dentistry and offer dental services to patients.

What Is A General Dentist?

A general dentist is a dental health professional whose primary responsibilities include managing and treating common dental health problems. Whenever something happens to your teeth and gums the first person you need to call is a general dentist. Aside from offering dental treatments like dentures, bridges, extractions and fillings they also provide preventive dental care which includes dental cleaning (scaling and polishing) and education (teaching you the proper way to brush and floss your teeth) to ensure that your oral health is in tiptop shape.

What Does A General Dentist Do?

General dentistry has evolved over the years. Back in the days, people made appointments to a general dentist for all problems concerning their teeth and gums. Today, this is no longer the case because there now exists a number of dental health specialists. If a general dentist wants to specialize in a particular area, they can pursue additional training and education. For example, if you want to treat misaligned teeth and abnormal bites you can specialize in orthodontics or if you want to treat gum problems and disease you can specialize in periodontology.

However, despite the abundance of dental health specialists, the first person you need to see regarding oral cavity problems is a general dentist. A general dentist provides overall care for your teeth and gums. Ideally, you should see your dentist twice a year that’s once every six months for an annual checkup. This is necessary so that your dentist can monitor the condition of your teeth and gums and to identify if you suffer from any existing dental problems. Early detection means early treatment and a better chance of resolving the problem before it gets worse.

What exactly does a general dentist do? Well, first, your general dentist will visually inspect your teeth and gums and perform several tests to validate their findings. A mouth X-ray may be ordered to check for oral abnormalities. If your general dentist discovers cavities in your teeth, he or she may perform a dental filling to stop tooth decay from spreading. If upon assessment your dentist sees that the cavity has gone too far and has infected the pulp a root canal therapy will be done to remove the infected pulp.

Another thing the general dentist are known for is dental cleaning. This is by far one of the most common services they offer to patients as part of preventive dental care. You see, when you brush and floss your teeth at home you don’t completely remove that sticky film called plaque on the surface of your teeth and along the gum line. Plaque tends to collect in certain areas in your mouth that your toothbrush and floss can’t reach. When plaque is not removed it will cause tooth decay and gum disease. Luckily, your dentist can clean your teeth thoroughly to remove all traces of plaque.


Basically, every person is required to see a general dentist once every six months for a dental exam and dental clean. After that, your general dentist will refer you to a specialist if he or she finds that your dental health problem requires special attention.