Dentistry is not a recent phenomenon. In ancient times Egyptians drilled holes at the bottom of the teeth near the roots to drain abscesses. Etruscans from Italy made partial dentures out of gold which were found in tombs. India and the Arabs developed high levels oral hygiene techniques with scaling and cleaning of teeth extensively done.
The cornerstone of current dentistry concerns itself with the treatment and prevention of disease. Dentistry involves all supporting structures such as the jaw, and the soft tissues surrounding teeth. Dentistry also concerns itself with the alignment of teeth and the jaw in a way that makes for effective chewing.
Dentistry demands specialization since each area takes different techniques and approaches to solve issues. General dentistry involves mostly prevention. It offers complete check-ups teaching good dental hygiene. Procedures such as fillings, and the application of chemicals to the healthy part of teeth slow down or prevent dental caries. Scraping and cleaning takes care of soft tissue issues such as gingivitis.
Orthodontics deals with crooked teeth. Causes are overcrowding of the teeth or an abnormal bite which calls for correction. The conditions occur because of genetics, unhealthy habits such as years of thumb sucking, jaw fractures or an abnormality of the teeth itself. Braces and bridges installed on the teeth make corrections over time.
Periodontics deals with the soft tissue aspects of dentistry. Jaws, gums and related structures are treated for inflammation or build-up of bacterial plaque. Special rinses are given to prevent plaque, prevention technique such as flossing is taught.
Endodontics focuses specifically on the dental pulp and the tissue that surrounds it. The procedure is known as root canal therapy. The pulp of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is filled. The tooth itself is essentially dead, but the supporting tissue and capillaries are alive and keep the dead tooth in place.
Oral and Maxillofacial Dentistry heal defects of the mouth, and jaw. Tooth extraction is a normal part of this field. It also includes dealing with serious infections.
Dentistry requires many years of schooling to obtain the level of skills necessary to serve their patients. After a college degree, further training consists of four years of specialized dentist courses to prepare one for all aspects of the profession. Look and check for these qualifications when looking for a new dentist particularly specializations.
Dentists do not do the job alone. Most have a variety of staff people to help take care of patients. Dental hygienists often do the prep work on a client. They often clean teeth apply fluorides and teach about good dental hygiene. Hygienists sometimes assist dentists with complex procedures that repair teeth.
Dental technicians create the bridges, crowns or dentures needed by patients. They take a dentist’s specific instructions and create moldings.
Laboratories provide services for smaller dentist offices such as creating specialized crowns and bridges. Also, labs can perform the analysis on infections found in patients. They give a second opinion on complicated conditions, so a more focused treatment plan is developed.
What to Look For
Check if a dentist you are considering participates in dental associations or organizations. It is an indication they keep up with current practices and are respected by other dentists. Staff should display caring attitudes and have information about insurance procedures and dental procedures. A good dentist will show you what is going on in your mouth, talk about x-rays, and give you options on their treatment. Many dentists understand families have budgets and will have payment plans that will fit needs.
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