What Does a General Dentist Do?

general dentists

Learn why your general dentist is important.

So what exactly is a general dentist? Well, a general dentist is your go-to health provider for all things oral health. For the average person, your general dentist will be the healthcare professional you see the most every year.

General dentists make up about 80% of dental professionals and play the single most important role in oral health care. Close to 65% of dental procedures performed are diagnostic or preventive in nature, which means your general dentist is key in helping you get your healthiest, most confident smile.

If you’re curious about what exactly your general dentist does and how they help you, we’ve answered a few of the most common general dentistry questions.

How does a general dentist help me?

Put simply, your general dentist helps you by keeping your teeth clean and fixing oral problems that occur. But really, a general dentist’s job goes a lot further than simply filling cavities. They actually help improve your overall health and well-being more than you might realize.

Here are five examples of how your general dentist helps you:

  • Improve Your Confidence and Success in Life: A healthy smile you can feel confident about improves your success at work, in relationships, and in your everyday life. Your general dentist can also offer cosmetic services, such as whitening, to really make your smile attractive and beaming.
  • Catch Minor Issues before They Become Major Problems: Biannual dental visits give your dentist a chance to notice issues, such as a spot of tooth decay, before you are even aware of it. This means getting immediate treatment, saving money, and not experiencing adverse side effects like a toothache.
  • Help You Maintain a Fresh, Clean Smile: Biannual dental hygiene visits leave you with a fresh, clean smile and smooth teeth. They also help to reduce bad breath, thanks to in-depth plaque removal.
  • Detect Early Signs of Oral Cancer: Oral cancer is extremely dangerous, and your dentist is the healthcare professional in the best place to detect early signs. Oral cancer screenings are often included in biannual or annual exams.
  • Notice Warning Signs of Gum Disease: Gum inflammation is the beginning of gum disease, but it’s generally quite treatable in the early stages. Your dentist will immediately notice signs of inflammation you aren’t able to see, even if you checked in the mirror yourself.

What services do general dentists provide?

Some general dentists only offer very basic services, such as routine cleanings, fillings, and similar forms of dental care. Thanks to the combined expertise of Drs. Dull and Zemke, Monroe Family Dentistry is able to offer a much more expansive menu of services for our patients.

Here is a summary of the services we offer:

  • Complete Cleanings and Examinations
  • Tooth-Colored Fillings and Crowns
  • Tooth Replacements (Implants, Dentures, Bridges)
  • Dental Sealants
  • Root Canal Therapy
  • Periodontal Care(Scaling and Root Planing)
  • TMJ Treatment
  • Emergency Care

Monroe Family Dentistry goes above and beyond standard general dentistry by also providing cosmetic dentistry services, including:

  • Cosmetic Tooth Contouring
  • Dental Bonding
  • Dental Veneers
  • Teeth Whitening

In addition to offering general dentistry services, we are also a family dentistry practice, meaning your kids are welcome, and we’re able to perform general pediatric dental care as well.

What do general dentists not do?

General dentists can perform a wide range of different services, including some that aren’t typically within the restorative or preventive care fields. Because of this, it can be tricky to say what a general dentist isn’t able to do, as it comes down to the individual dentist’s training.

On average, a general dentist doesn’t perform “specialty” dental services. Some examples of these services include:

  • Advanced Orthodontic Care
  • Advanced Pediatric Care
  • Advanced Periodontal Care
  • Advanced Prosthodontic Care
  • Oral Surgery

Many dentists, including our own Drs. Dull and Zemke, still offer quality care within these fields. Whether you can receive a specific type of service really comes down to each individual’s needs.

As an example, a general dentist may be highly trained when it comes to performing root canal therapy, but in very advanced cases, they may refer a patient to an endodontic specialist. Similarly, a family dentist may offer general dentistry services to all ages, but in difficult situations, a specialist in pediatric dentistry may be required.

You can rest assured when outside referrals are needed, we only recommend patients to local specialists we would trust with our families.

When should I see a general dentist?

Not sure if you need to see a dentist or not? Here are five signs it’s time to see a general dentist:

  • If It’s Been Over Six Months: Don’t wait until there’s a problem to see your dentist. If it’s been over six months since your last cleaning or exam, it’s time to schedule an appointment.
  • Tooth Pain or Sensitivity: Any sort of tooth pain or sensitivity to temperature warrants a visit to a dentist. Even minor toothaches can still be a sign of a serious underlying issue.
  • Gum Inflammation or Bleeding: Gum swelling, tenderness, and bleeding while brushing or flossing point to gingivitis or gum disease. The sooner you see your dentist, the sooner you can begin treatment, and the greater the chance of healing without permanent gum damage.
  • Facial Swelling or Tenderness: Swelling or tenderness around the jaw should be checked out by your dentist. Other facial swellings, such as around the neck, may warrant a trip to your doctor instead. If you’re unsure of what to do, give your dentist a call and ask. 
  • Cracked or Chipped Teeth: Damage of any kind, especially cracks and serious chips, require an immediate visit with your dentist. Even minor chips need to be evaluated.

Proactive dental care is important in preventing future dental problems from developing and current issues from worsening. Aside from the golden rule of biannual preventive care visits, we recommend our patients give us a call if they’re experiencing anything out of the ordinary, no matter how trivial the matter may appear.

Make your appointment with Monroe Family Dentistry today.

If it’s been a while since your last cleaning and exam or you’re experiencing any sort of pain or tooth damage, it’s time to make an appointment to see Drs. Dull or Zemke.

When you’re ready to schedule your visit, you can give us a call or use our online Request An Appointment form.