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What Dentist Should I Go To? Understanding the Types of Dental Specialists


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We’ve probably neglected to brush, floss, or visit the dentist as regularly as we’re supposed to. And despite the fact that many of us don’t take care of our teeth in the way that we’re supposed to, a pretty, white, even smile can make a big difference in how we feel about ourselves and how other people see us. Indeed, over 95% of adults think that a nice smile makes them more attractive to members of the opposite sex and a high percentage also believes that having a good smile is socially important. If you do run into a more serious problem, like removing cavities, needing braces, getting a tooth replaced, or if you need to repair dental crowns, the dentistry profession is here to help.

When Might I Need to Repair Dental Crowns?

If you’d had dental problems before, you may have dental crowns to replace a large filling, protect a weak tooth, or cover teeth that are badly shaped or discolored, among other things. However, sometimes you also need to repair dental crowns if they’re old or exposed to more wear and tear. For example, an sporting accident, exposure to hard foods, or grinding your teeth (without wearing a retainer or night guard) can all cause the need to repair dental crowns.

When a dental crown cracks, it’s time to go back to the dentist. You shouldn’t wait — the crown is there to protect the original tooth, which is probably fragile or damaged in some way, so the longer you wait, the worse the potential for damage becomes.

Who Does What?

We all know our general family dentist
, but there are also cosmetic dentists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, and a few other specialized types of dentists. Though some of their areas may overlap, each specializes in different areas. You’re probably going to be most familiar with the four listed above in your lifetime.

A general dentist will cover cleanings, routine oral exams, a thorough examination of your mouth, and discuss good dental hygiene with you. He or she may also make referrals to specialists, should you need further care. They can also insert fillings, crowns, and do “emergency” care if a tooth is knocked out, broken, or comes loose.

You’ll probably visit an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to get your wisdom teeth out, but they also deal with impacted teeth and more delicate procedures like reconstructive facial surgery, among other things.

As a child or teen, your dentist may have recommended you to an orthodontist, whom you then visited regularly for braces. They specialize in the irregularities of the teeth, how you bite, and the jaws.

A cosmetic dentist can help whiten your teeth, give you veneers or implants, and carry out other procedures that allow their patients to have the health, function, and appearance of healthy teeth. They can help give you the even, white, healthy smile that you want.

How Can I Keep From Having More Oral Problems?

Checking in regularly with your dentist is a good way to keep yourself on the straight and narrow of healthy teeth. “Regularly” means at least once a year (though once every six months is recommended), not the average three years between appointments that the average adult waits. The dentist will be able to monitor your dental health and make suggestions that can keep potential problems from forming. For example, he or she may suggest incorporating mouthwash into your regimen, or using a different kind of toothbrush or toothpaste to improve brushing quality.

Of course, brushing and flossing regularly and thoroughly can also go a long way towards keeping your teeth healthy and strong. If you have a history of bad teeth in your family, you may also want to minimize the amount of sugary snacks or drinks you consume, or stay away from particularly hard foods. Be aware of what beverages or foods can stain teeth (coffee, wine, tea, etc.).

Taking care of your dental health can also mean taking care of your overall health — often poor dental health can be a warning sign for larger health problems ahead.

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