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About General Dentistry

A general dentist is a primary care dental professional, or what many would call a 'family dentist'. While general dentists can differ in the services they offer, general dentistry typically involves the diagnosis and treatment of common oral health issues, as well as preventive care such as routine examinations, and restorations including fillings and crowns.

General Dentistry FAQs

  • What causes sensitive teeth?

    Many people suffer from sensitive teeth, particularly as we get into middle age and beyond.

    In part, this is because over time our tooth enamel begins to wear, exposing the softer inner dentin of the tooth which contains thousands of microscopic nerves. Once these nerves are exposed, triggers such as exposure to hot and cold temperatures can result in sharp jolts of tooth sensitivity.

    Another common cause of tooth sensitivity is receding gums. As the gum line recedes, the roots of your tooth gradually become exposed. Since there is no protective enamel on the tooth roots, the sensitive nerves in your tooth are exposed to triggers such as sugar and hot or cold temperatures.

    Damage caused by tooth decay or trauma such as a broken tooth can also expose tooth nerves and lead to pain.

    Depending on the cause of your tooth sensitivity, your general dentist may be able to provide treatment options to help reduce the pain and discomfort of this condition.

  • What are the most common signs of gum disease?

    Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is the inflammation and infection of the gums and the surrounding tissue. Generally caused by bacterial plaque, it is a primary cause of adult tooth loss.

    Visiting your general dentist regularly for examinations and cleanings, combined with a thorough at-home oral hygiene routine, can help to prevent gum disease from developing.

    There are a number of stages of gum disease. In the very earliest stages, there are often no signs or symptoms. However, as the condition becomes more severe you may notice symptoms such as:

    • Red, inflamed gums
    • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
    • Receding gums
    • Loose or separating teeth
    • Presence of pus between the gum and tooth
    • Chronic bad breath

    If you are noticing signs of gum disease contact your dentist to book an examination. Your dentist will be able to recommend treatments to help restore your gums to good health.

  • What services are part of general dentistry?

    General dentists can vary greatly in the services they offer, but general dentistry services typically include:

    • Preventive care, such as routine exams, dental X-rays, and fluoride treatments.
    • Dental care tailored to the needs of children from infancy through their teen years.
    • Restorative services, including fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures.
    • Oral surgery procedures such as root canals, frenectomies, tooth extractions and dental implants.
    • Cosmetic dental care, which can include teeth whitening, veneers, dental bonding and full-mouth restorations.
    • Orthodontics to help correct bite and tooth misalignment issues.
    • Dental appliance fitting for sports or night mouth guards, and in some cases sleep apnea devices.
    • Dental sedation options to help patients feel more comfortable while receiving dental care.
    • Treatment for conditions such as TMJ disorder and more.

  • Are there different types of dentists?

    Dentists fall into one of 10 categories. All dentists must first complete training to become General Dentists. A general dentist is your primary care dentist, or what many might call a 'family dentist'. Your family dentist should be able to meet most of your dental care needs.

    Once a person has qualified as a general dentist they may choose to continue training to become one of 9 categories of specialist dentists.

    The 9 recognized dental specialties in Canada are:

    • Dental Public Health - diagnosis, prevention and control of dental diseases and the promotion of good oral health using organized community efforts.
    • Endodontics - concerned with diseases and injuries that affect the inside of the tooth.
    • Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - specializes in oral surgery, removing impacted wisdom teeth, more complex tooth extractions, placing dental implants, bone grafting, and more.
    • Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology - concerned with taking and interpreting radiographic images of the mouth, face and jaws, including CT and MRI scans used for the diagnosis and treatment planning.
    • Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics - orthodontics involves the management of tooth movement for people of any age, whereas dentofacial orthopedics involves the guidance of facial growth and development during childhood.
    • Pediatric Dentistry - specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of dental problems in infants, children, and teenagers.
    • Periodontics - focused on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease (gum disease), and the placement of dental implants.
    • Prosthodontics - specializes in complex dental cases involving the replacement of missing teeth, including jaw surgery, dentures, implants, and more. 
  • What is oral cancer screening?

    Oral cancer can affect any part of the mouth or surrounding tissues. At each of your routine preventive examinations, your dentist may take the time to check for signs of oral cancer that could otherwise be missed. 

    When performing oral cancer screening your dentist will check your face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer. If anything of concern is detected your dentist will speak to you about further testing and next steps.

    Some dental practices are equipped with an oral cancer screening device called a VELscope which uses natural tissue fluorescence to help your dentist see abnormalities not visible to the naked eye. 

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