What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a general dentist? Is it having a cavity filled? Is it having crowns applied? Perhaps it is going through a routine cleaning, or maybe even something like having a root canal. The truth is that preventative and general dentistry treatments encompass all of these options and much more. Working with the right dentist in Waco can ensure that you are able to benefit from targeted treatments based on your specific oral health needs. What benefits might you find with preventative and general dentistry in Waco?

The Role of Preventative and General Dentistry

Caring for your teeth and gums, as well as the other soft tissue within your mouth can be surprisingly difficult. It requires much more than a regular brushing of your teeth. Even if you brush every morning and night, you could still end up with plaque buildup, tartar buildup, cavities, or even be at risk for conditions like periodontal disease, gingivitis, or even oral cancer.

Preventative and general dentistry services from a general dentist in Waco can help ensure that you have the best possible oral health and that you are able to avoid potentially damaging, even deadly, conditions that can arise. The role of preventative and general dentistry is to help maintain good oral health at all times and to prevent problems from becoming serious issues.

To achieve those goals, your general dentist will use a number of tools, techniques and treatment modalities, including dental exams, cleanings, imaging and more. However, good oral health requires more than just going to the dentist regularly. It also requires that you are committed to protecting your teeth, gums and mouth tissues and that you understand and adhere to at-home prevention and cleaning methods.

The Importance of Overall Health and the Support of General Dentistry

It’s tempting to think that the health of your mouth is not connected to your overall health in any way. After all, it is completely possible to feel fine if you have a cavity. However, mounting scientific evidence indicates that the health of your mouth has a great deal to do with how you feel overall, and can affect many other things. The term “oral-systemic health” has come into use to denote the impact of oral health on the rest of your body.

Poor oral health and the conditions and oral diseases that go along with it can have a dramatic, debilitating effect on your life. For instance, poor oral health could put you at a higher risk for heart attack or stroke, or even make you more likely to develop specific types of cancer. Even conditions that seem completely unrelated to Alzheimer’s and diabetes can be linked to oral health.

In addition to providing you with preventative and general dentistry treatments, your Waco dentist will also provide you with education and guidance on proper oral health care, and how your overall health and well-being are linked to your oral health.

Understanding the Treatment Options and Methods of a General Dentist

In order to assess your oral health and to treat any potential problems you might be experiencing, your dentist in Waco will employ a very wide range of preventative and general dentistry treatment methods and modalities. To help you understand the importance of each treatment option, as well as its role in your overall oral health, we will explore most of them in detail here.

Cleanings and Checkups

You should have a cleaning and checkup at least once every six months. These are usually routine treatments, but they are designed to do several things. Obviously, your teeth will be cleaned at each visit, and this is important not only for keeping your smile bright, but for removing plaque and tartar buildup that could eventually lead to gum disease and other serious health conditions, including abscesses, the need for root canals, and more. However, they are also important opportunities for your dentist in Waco to assess your overall oral health, your oral hygiene habits, and determine if you are at risk for future problems.

The first portion of your appointment will be dedicated to cleaning your teeth and gum line. This will be handled by a team of dental hygienists. You will also have your oral health assessed during this period, and your Waco dentist will also make an assessment of your dental care habits. Once the cleaning is finished, your Waco dentist will sit down with you and discuss many key things. Dr. Corbet Locke will discuss your brushing and flossing habits, your eating habits, and any other potential issues that might be having a negative impact on your oral health.

However, if there are any potential issues noticed during the assessment portion, you may have dental x-rays taken. This allows your dentist to get a better view of the bones in your mouth, your teeth, and even your gums, to determine whether there might be further treatment needed. This may include things like abscesses, gum disease, gingivitis, oral cancer, bone loss and more.

You will also receive information and guidance on whether or not restorative dentistry work is needed. These treatment methods usually fall outside of preventative and general dentistry and include things like bridges, dental crowns, inlays and onlays, and the like. You can also take this opportunity to ask your dentist about any cosmetic dentistry treatments you might have been considering, including teeth whitening, braces and the like to help you achieve the bright, white, straight smile that you deserve.

Modern Fillings

Fillings are part and parcel of preventative and general dentistry. If your Waco dentist identifies cavities during your checkup and cleaning, you will need to have them filled. That thought likely does not make you happy, but understand that modern fillings are very different from what they once were. How have fillings changed?

One of the most important changes with dental fillings is that amalgam is no longer used as the material of choice. That combination of metals that left dark, obvious spots in your teeth has been replaced by something else. Today, most fillings are made with a composite material that can be color matched to your teeth to help hide your fillings.

There are other benefits to using composite material, as well. For instance, much less tooth material needs to be removed with composite material to ensure a good fit. That shortens the amount of time you need to spend in the chair and reduces the amount of discomfort you feel during the process.

Treating Periodontal Disease

Treating periodontal disease is part of preventative and general dentistry in most cases. You might be more familiar with this condition as gum disease. Your Waco dentist should use modern techniques and technologies to first diagnose gum disease, and then to address its effects in your mouth.

Gum disease is caused by plaque and tartar buildup between your teeth and gums, along with the gum line. This allows bacteria to breed and thrive under the edge of the gums, eventually creating a serious infection. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss, significant damage to your gums, bone loss, and even spread the infection to other areas, including your blood.

Signs that you might be suffering from periodontal disease include tender or bleeding gums, or even pus being expressed between your teeth and gums. Chronic bad breath can also be a sign, as can loosening teeth and changes in your bite pattern. Even patients who have had their teeth pulled can develop periodontal disease, and poorly fitting dentures or partials can be a sign of this.

Note that gum disease cannot be cured by brushing and flossing. Once it has developed, you will need to seek professional treatment from your general dentist in Waco. Dr. Corbet Locke can provide you with the Perio Tray® treatment, which is noninvasive and designed to treat gum disease without the need for conventional surgery and causes no pain or discomfort.

Treatment for Bruxism

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is something that many people suffer from. Over time, it can cause an incredible range of problems, including TMJ, muscle deterioration, premature wear on the surfaces of your teeth, and a great deal more. Treating bruxism is an important step in preventative and general dentistry, as it can help you avoid painful, debilitating conditions in the future.

The first step is to determine the cause of bruxism in your case. It could be any of a number of different things, from previous injuries to poor jaw alignment. Even stress can cause it. Symptoms of bruxism can include things like experiencing frequent headaches, pain the muscles of your jaw, or even earaches.

Bruxism is actually an unconscious habit, which can make it difficult to treat. However, your dentist in Waco can provide you with a number of solutions to help treat this condition and prevent the development of even more serious conditions. One of the most effective ways of treating bruxism is the creation of a custom mouth guard that can be worn while you sleep (when teeth grinding is most common) or even during the day if needed. A splint may also need to be used in some situations.

With the right preventative treatment, you can cure bruxism and avoid the potentially devastating consequences of grinding your teeth.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Preventative and General Dentistry?

Almost anyone is a good candidate for preventative and general dentistry. After all, this is the branch of dentistry that deals with things like teeth cleanings, general checkups, and the prevention of serious problems that could cause major health issues down the road. Note that even those who have not yet developed all of their teeth, or who have lost their teeth can still benefit from this branch of dentistry.

If it has been some time since you had a checkup, or if you have been avoiding your regular cleanings, it is crucial that you make an appointment as soon as possible with a general dentist in Waco. This will help ensure that your oral health is good and that you are not developing potentially damaging, even deadly, conditions. Routine checkups can help ensure that your gums remain healthy and that you do not develop gum disease. They are also the most important line of defense against oral cancer. If your dentist in Waco notices suspicious signs that might indicate the beginnings of oral cancer, biopsies can be performed to determine the situation. Oral cancer is one of the most survivable forms of cancer, but it must be caught early.

Make an Appointment for Preventative and General Dentistry Treatment with Our Waco Office

How long has it been since you had a checkup with your Waco dentist? When was your last teeth cleaning? We invite you to contact us today by calling 254-776-4888 or using the contact form on our website to make an appointment with Dr. Corbet Locke. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you with your general dentistry needs.