Having a Family Dentist

Recent studies have suggested that almost 46% of all Americans don’t have access to a family dentist to whom they can go every time. The most common way to find a family dentist is through referrals. People generally ask friends or family for a dentist whom they go to and whether he does a good job. The next step is to go to the dentist and inquire whether he is accepting new patients. This method is usually safe for finding a good dentist because friends and family will obviously suggest someone who takes his job seriously. But simply having a referral is not enough. One should meet the dentist in person and find out whether he/she would be comfortable with them. The rates and the schedule of the dentist should also be worked out. There’s no point booking an appointment with the dentist many months in advance for a regulatory simple check-up.

It is important for a dentist to be abreast with the developments in treatment. Before going to the dentist it’s a good idea to check for new methods of treatment on the Internet. Quizzing the dentist gently about these methods is a sure indication as to how competent he is. If he passes the test, it becomes easier to know that your family is in good hands. It is also important to know whether he will traumatize your children when they get their check up done. So it’s better to go for a minor check up yourself before the family starts doing the rounds. The check up would be over and done with and also you would get and idea of his behavioral capacities. A good dentist means the entire package should be good. The support staff should be friendly, the waiting room nice and the chairs in the operating room comfortable to get an overall good feeling. All these factors are important for an ideal dental experience.

Family dentistry is often used interchangeably with the term general dentistry. Though both are connected with general oral hygiene and maintenance, there is a subtle difference between the two. Unlike some dentists who restrict their expertise to treating only a select age-group of patients, family dentists treat patients from children to seniors. The basic work of a family dentist is to ensure minimum plaque build-up, healthy gums and teeth, hygiene being maintained at a high level. The ADA recommends a minimum of two check-ups in a calendar year to prevent tooth decay. Generally family dentists are looked upon as preventative avenues because they try and avoid the onset of serious diseases by routine check-ups. Getting teeth checked would lead to minimum plaque formation, absence of tooth decay and in case of any disease, treatment at the earliest to ensure healthy teeth. Also detection of a cavity in the initial stages can be tended to easily. Getting the cavity filled by a simple procedure would be less cumbersome then having other restorative procedures like root canal, crown done.

To become a family dentist, a person must pass the dental admission test after under graduation. He must attend a 3-5 year dental school program after that to attain a general dentistry education. Finally the candidates must clear the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) to become licensed dentists. The course is very tough and demanding. After passing this test, the dentist is awarded the degree of Doctor of Dental Medicine or Doctor of Dental Surgery. They are two different degrees awarded for pretty many similar studies. Immediately after graduation, most of the dentists get into practice to become a general or family dentist. But a small percentage of them opt for higher studies. They complete their post graduation to become speciality dentists. There are nine fields of specialized dentistry that have been recognized by the ADA. They are: –

1. Dental Public Health

2. Endodontics

3. Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology

4. Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology

5. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

6. Orthodontics

7. Pedodontics (Paediatric Dentistry)

8. Periodontics

9. Prosthodontics

There are some family dentists who perform cosmetic dentistry as well and preferred to be known as family and cosmetic dentist. They generally have more training than family dentist.

Becoming a cosmetic dentist along with a family dentist requires some extra training. Cosmetic dentistry basically involves improving the appearance of a person’s teeth, mouth or smile. It also restores the confidence of a person. . Cosmetic dentistry helps a person primarily in two ways- smile makeovers and full mouth reconstruction. Dental veneers, dental implants and teeth whitening are a few methods of giving that extra attractiveness to the smile. Bad condition of teeth, tooth decay, or other tooth diseases is reasons why people sometimes don’t smile openly. Cosmetic dentistry is dedicated to improving their oral appearances in such a way that the confidence soars. A full mouth reconstruction involves a total makeover for the mouth. Severe wear of the teeth, extensive discoloration and diseased gums are attended to by this procedure. Often a number of dentists work on their specific areas of expertise in full mouth reconstruction.

The various dentistry procedures are:-

Dental fillings- as earlier accentuated this method can be accommodated in cosmetic dentistry also. Nowadays porcelain or composite resin type materials are used to give that perfect tooth-color experience.

Bonding- it’s a procedure to repair a chipped or broken tooth and give it a wholesome look. A dental repair material that has the look of enamel is added to the tooth’s surface where it is then sculpted into shape, contoured and polished, thus rendering the cavity or the broken tooth invisible.

Teeth whitening- this is the most commonly used and recommended cosmetic dental procedure. Teeth get stained easily due to a number of factors like smoking, drinking and bad oral hygiene. Bleaching the teeth helps them regain their whiteness thus making them attractive.Dental veneers- it’s a process to attach small plastic or porcelain chips to teeth so that they improve a worn out or severe discoloration appearance. They are also used in those cases where there are gaps in between teeth and also unsuccessful teeth whitening trials.Dental implants- dental implants often help the face to look better and younger as they replace missing teeth. They are in fact artificial replacements to fill up empty spaces where the teeth are lost.

Cosmetic dentistry helps a lot of people to look better and get a better smile. This often enhances their confidence in front of other people.

Getting cosmetic dentistry done by an expert is very important as he can help your face look wonderful. On deciding to have it done, one should take recommendations from friends who have already got it done. Checking out someone before committing is always a good idea. Their participation in organizations like the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry would give you a good idea whether they are to be relied on. Also check out their experience in the field because accreditation to the organization requires a lot of hard work and adherence to ethical work standards. Examining photos of patients before and after the dental work done, checking whether the photos shown are of the patients treated by the doctor are some guidelines to follow. The dental lab technician who the doctor has allowed to help him should also be checked. The type of instruments used, the sanitation standards followed and also the dexterity with which the surgery’s to be done should be inquired about. Ask about how long will the results last and the proper methods of care to be taken, at home and also while traveling. Though emergencies are unlikely, find out what are the back-up facilities of the hospital and also what the financing options for the treatment are. It is also important to find out the manner and behaviour of the support staff. The dental procedures generally take quite a bit of time so it is necessary to have a good rapport with them.

After the surgery is done, the patient needs to keep in handy some numbers that might help in emergency problems. Dental emergencies can occur if something done in the cosmetic procedure goes horribly wrong or even side-effects may occur. The problem with dental emergencies is that they tend to occur during odd hours. How many times have you experienced tooth pain or any other dental related problems in the dead of the night? It’s usually very difficult to get hold of an emergency dentist at this point.

So be ready to practice your limited expertise to stem the flow of pain. The following points would come in handy. In case a tooth is knocked out it shouldn’t be dealt with roughly and taken care of. If the tooth hasn’t come out fully then it should be held gently in its socket until a dentist is available. If the tongue is bitten and the bleeding doesn’t stop then pressure should be applied to the affected area with a clean wet cloth. In case of a bleeding lip, cold compresses should be pressed down on it. This helps in lessening the flow or stopping it altogether because ice numbs the blood vessels.

Some items that can be generally kept at home for dental emergencies or even took on trips, picnics, etc are soft dental wax, anti-fluoride mouthwash, dental floss, over the counter pain-reliever, clove oil, some temporary filling material like Tempanol or Cavit, cotton swabs, disposable tooth brush and tooth paste, small tweezers, water, and rubber gloves.

Before trying out any of these temporary medications it is very important to find out the exact location which is hurting. Any mistake in recognizing could lead to further repercussions. Find out which part of the tooth or gum is hurting. The tooth is composed of a hard enamel outer layer while the inner portion is soft and fleshy. When this fleshy part is exposed then it usually hurts a lot. However the pain need not be only this, it can also result from a cavity or a canker sore. Now select the most appropriate medication for a temporary relief till the dentist is available.