mccartney dental florida

What Does a General Dentist Do?

Woman with a dental mirror

Just as a general practitioner is a medical doctor that provides preventative services, health education, and the treatment of illnesses, a general dentist does the same for your teeth. According to the American Dental Association, out of all the currently practicing dentists, 80% are general dentists, while the other 20% work as dental specialists that focus on a particular dental speciality. 

General dentists offer their patients expertise in a variety of areas as a result of their training. First, general dentists must complete an undergraduate degree before being accepted to an accredited dental school. In the United States, only about 56 dental schools are accredited. During their time in dental school, general dentists will take classes on anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacology, oral anatomy, oral pathology, and oral histology. They will then also complete about two years of clinical practice where they learn how to work with a variety of patients. 

After dental school, they will be awarded with either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) degree. Although the titles are different, both degrees require the same training and are considered to be equal. Once a general dentist has obtained their degree, they will still need to pass a national board examination, as well as a state or regional board examination to practice dentistry in their area. 

This extensive training allows general dentists to provide their patients with a variety of dental services including preventative services, restorative services, cosmetic dental services, and overall health counseling services. Let’s take a closer look at each type of service: 

Preventative Dentistry: 

Preventative dentistry is centered around services that work to maintain existing oral health and prevent future dental issues from occurring. Preventative services at McCartney Dental include dental consultations, teeth cleanings, dental sealants, fluoride treatments, and patient education. The majority of general dentistry is based on the prevention of dental issues and it is recommended by the American Dental Association that you visit your general dentist at least once every six months. 

Closeup of a man having his teeth cleaned

Restorative Dentistry: 

Restorative dentistry refers to any dental procedure that treats a dental issue to restore the tooth to its previous, healthy state. In some cases, restorative dental services may also be emergency dental services, especially if symptoms come on suddenly or are caused by a traumatic injury. Restorative services at McCartney Dental include dental crowns & bridges, dental implants, dentures, dental fillings, and root canals. 

Dental bridges against a white background

Cosmetic Dentistry: 

Cosmetic dentistry is similar to restorative dentistry with an added emphasis on visual aesthetics. While restorative dentistry focuses on restoring function, cosmetic dentistry works to restore or improve the visual look of your smile. Cosmetic dental services at McCartney Dental include crowns & bridges, composite fillings, dental implants, teeth whitening, and veneers. 

Dental restorations against a black background

Overall Health Counseling: 

Did you know that your oral health is a window to your overall health? By evaluating your oral health, Dr. McCartney can get a good idea about your overall health and may discuss certain connections between the two. For example, gum disease and diabetes are closely related, as are tooth decay and premature birth weight. Depending on your individual medical history, Dr. McCartney will work with you to design the best treatment plan for both your oral and overall health. 

When you come into McCartney Dental for your semi-annual dental checkup, you can expect to undergo a three-part dental appointment. This appointment will start with dental x-rays, progress with a dental consultation, and end with a professional teeth cleaning. 

Dental X-rays: 

When you come to our office, we will begin your appointment by taking dental x-rays. This process should only take about ten minutes and will be painless. During your dental x-rays, our hygienist may ask you to hold certain positions, bite down on certain plastic pieces, or angle your face a certain way. While some of these positions may seem awkward or slightly uncomfortable, they help us to get the best angles of your underlying bone structure. 

Woman having a dental xray

Dental x-rays are an important diagnostic tool because they allow Dr. McCartney to evaluate the underlying bone structure. This allows for the possible diagnosis of cavities, impacted wisdom teeth, or the need for orthodontics. During your dental consultation, these dental x-rays will be discussed if there is anything to be concerned about. 

Dental Consultation: 

The second part of your general dental appointment is the dental consultation. To start your dental consultation, Dr. McCartney will first ask you about any dental concerns, your medical history, and any medications you are taking. He will then perform an oral evaluation of your teeth, gums, and bite. During the exam, he may use a special probe to test your teeth for signs of cavities or sensitivity, and he may also measure the depth of your gum pockets to check for gum disease. 

After examining your mouth, he will discuss any findings with you and answer any questions you may have. Sometimes it is helpful to write down some questions before your appointment. Some possible questions may want to ask include: 

  • Am I brushing and flossing correctly?
  • What kind of toothpaste should I use?
  • Why do my gums bleed?

Professional Teeth Cleaning: 

The final part of your dental appointment is the professional teeth cleaning. To start your professional teeth cleaning, a special dental tool called a scaler will be used to gently scrape debris off the outer surface of your teeth. There are two types of accumulations that reside on your tooth enamel: plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky film composed of bacteria and food particles that can be removed during regular brushing and flossing. Tartar is plaque that has been left in place too long and has now hardened onto the tooth’s surface. Unlike plaque, tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing, and can only be removed with a scaler tool. 

Once the plaque, tartar, and bacteria have been scraped away, your teeth will be brushed with a gritty toothpaste to ensure that even the smaller particles have been loosened. Then your mouth will be rinsed to remove these smaller particles and any other remaining debris. Once your teeth are clean, a fluoride polish will be brushed onto their surface to help strengthen the enamel and repair any damage caused by bacterial buildup. This polish also makes it harder for future bacteria to adhere to the surface of your teeth. 

Once your professional teeth cleaning is complete, your general dental appointment is complete. On your way out of the office, we will schedule your next appointment about six months out. It is important to keep regular dental appointments to maintain your oral health and keep your smile glowing. For the best dentistry in North Point, FL, schedule a consultation with Dr. McCartney today! McCartney Dental serves residents in North Point, as well as those in Rotunda and Englewood. 

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