Just like in other areas of healthcare, dentists can train in different areas of expertise. A 'general dentist' is your teeth's equivalent of a GP: they perform routine checkups, diagnose conditions and areas of concern, treat a wide variety of oral problems and refer their patients on to specialists when something comes up that requires specialised care.
If you haven't visited a dentist in a while, it's normal to be a little worried about an upcoming dental appointment. Getting regular checkups is a vital part of looking after yourself and your health, but anxiety around them is common! General dentists are good at allaying these concerns: they're used to patients being nervous or wary, and they're trained in putting you at ease and answering your questions. Many people also find it useful to do a little research before they arrive about what they can expect during a routine dental checkup.
Step One: Talking it over and discussing your areas of concern
Every dental examination begins with a general conversation about what's going on with your teeth, whether you're experiencing any pain or sensitivity, what your usual oral hygiene routine looks like and where your areas of concern might be. It's okay to be honest with your dentist, even if you feel a little reticence or shame. They've heard everything, and they want to help you improve your oral health in the way that's best for you.
Step Two: A basic oral examination
For a preliminary examination, your dentist will use a small mirror and possibly another tool to help them look around inside your mouth. These might feel a little odd, but nothing happens at this stage that will cause pain. They're not treating you yet—they're just seeing what needs to be discussed next.
Step Three: Basic cleaning and preliminary treatment
Some very minor problems can be treated immediately, and these are procedures that won't hurt or leave you numb afterwards. Your dentist will always tell you exactly what they're doing before they get started, and give you a chance to ask any questions you might have. They'll also give your teeth a basic cleaning, to clear away plaque and tartar from the gumline.
Step Four: Planning the next stages
More complex procedures will need to happen during a follow-up appointment. This can include deep cleaning, scaling and polishing for people with a larger buildup of tartar and fillings or crowns to treat cavities. Your general dentist will probably carry out those procedures themselves. More specialised issues can require referral to another dentist: this is often the case for root canal treatment and impacted wisdom tooth removal, amongst other things.
If you don't need to book any further appointments, you're good to go! Your dentist will probably give you some general advice on how to improve your oral healthcare routine, and is likely to encourage you to come back for another checkup within six months to a year.
Reach out to a general dentistry to find out more.
Hello, my name is Jack. I am now 79 years old. As you can imagine, my teeth have taken something of a battering over the years. I lost a couple of teeth in a bar fight, four more decayed and one had to be extracted when it became infected. After losing so many teeth, my dentist suggested that I have dentures fitted. I was worried about this but my dentist was really great. He helped explain the procedure and then did an excellent job. I love my new dentures and I wanted to start this blog to offer help to others.