Your oral healthcare is as essential as your general healthcare. That’s why you should have a family dentist who can help your family maintain excellent dental health. A family dentist offers a wide range of services for optimum oral health. As much as you need a dentist for your family, you should choose a dentist who can offer quality services. Contact us at Northridge Dentist for the best dental care for your family.

Everything You Need to Know About Family Dentistry

Family dentistry is part of general dentistry that involves offering comprehensive dental services to families. It is concerned with oral hygiene and the health of both baby and permanent teeth. This kind of dentistry is suitable for families who intend to maintain good oral health from the youngest to the eldest.

Qualifications of a Family Dentist

Family dentists receive their training in graduate school through a Doctor of Dental program. Applicants in dental schools should achieve high grades in prerequisite courses such as biology, physics, chemistry, and biochemistry. Dental schools also prefer applicants with high scores in their Dental Admission Test.

Throughout their training, dentists take courses in different areas such as anesthesiology, microbiology, radiology, dental anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology, all of which are necessary. They also learn different facets of the dental practice, such as endodontics, periodontics, orthodontics, and oral surgery, although they can specialize in either of them later on. Throughout their program, dental students should complete clinical clerkship and rotations to observe dentists and work with patients to complete their training.

After dentists have completed their training, they must be accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation and pass written and clinical examinations. The written test usually consists of parts one and two of the National Board Dental Examinations. Dental school takes four years to complete a full-time status, meaning that those who intend to complete a bachelor’s degree would be in school for eight years.

Services Offered by Family Dentists

Family dentists offer several services depending on the needs of their patients. They are not specialized in any specific dental area, making them unsuitable for specialized dental care but suitable for your preliminary dental care. Here are the basic services that a family dentist can offer.

Dental Examination 

Most family dentists offer dental examinations to their patients. Dental examinations include various services meant to check for obvious dental problems such as tooth decay and decide on the next course of action. An exam process will involve a thorough inspection of your tongue, mouth, and teeth. During a dental examination, you should expect the family dentist to:

  • Evaluate your oral health and hygiene
  • Evaluate the risk of gum disease, bone disease, or tooth decay
  • Check jaw problems and your bite
  • Assess your need for fluoride
  • Show you proper cleaning techniques for your dentures or teeth

The dentist will also ask you about your health problems or medication and how they might affect your oral health. For instance, if you have diabetes, the dentist might advise you on gum disease risk.

If you have prosthetics such as dentures or bridges, the dentist will examine how they fit your mouth and discuss the need for adjustment. You expect other services from a family dentist during a dental examination other than the services provided above. These services are described below.

Medical History Intake

Once you are in a family dentist’s office, the dentist will ask you a few questions to discover more about your oral health. You might be needed to offer information about your current medication, healing remedies, allergies, and whether to quit smoking or consuming alcohol.

The dentist should also ask whether there are any medical conditions that you are being treated for. Once you have answered all these questions, the dentist should ask you about your previous dental treatment, surgeries, and experience with anesthesia. With all this information, the dentist will make an essential first step towards a sound treatment plan. 

Investigating Your Oral Health

After the dentist has collected all essential information needed, the dentist moves to the second step that involves a thorough investigation of your teeth, jaw, and supporting structures. Dentists usually rely on X-rays during this step.

X-ray machines are essential in dental examinations since they can detect dental abnormalities invisible to the naked eyes. The dentist will start by taking a full mouth X-ray before spot-checking your mouth for specific problems.

Please note, X-rays are not generally required in every dental examination. Excessive exposure to radiation can harm your dental and overall health. Therefore, you should speak to your family dentist if you have any concerns about radiation exposure. 

Your family dentist can also take a dental impression during your routine dental examination. Family dentists use dental impressions when they intend to check teeth alignment and bite. They replicate the jaw and teeth of patients and are useful in checking issues with their bite.

In a dental examination, family dentists make a dental mold by filling a horseshoe-shaped tray with gelatin-like material. They usually put the trays over their patients’ upper and lower teeth for a while to create the cast. You can also be requested to bite on a soft material and have the dentist review your bite.

A patient’s specific case dictates the more particular elements of the examination. For instance, patients who grind their teeth would require a dental impression to check if their nightguards are functional and know how much wear it would endure since the previous inspection.

Examining Results

Family dentists should examine all results acquired during the investigation process to decide on the best course of action. X-ray results would possibly indicate specific problems related to your dental health, which can help the dentist identify the best treatment. The dentist will also decide whether to refer you to a specialist or treat the condition depending on its extent and capabilities.

Oral Cancer Screening

The rising number of oral cancer has prompted most family dentists to include oral screening in dental exams. Oral cancer is a severe condition and can occur in various ways. If the condition is not detected early enough, it can quickly spread and become life-threatening.

An early oral cancer diagnosis makes it more treatable. Modern family dentists have been trained to detect the early signs of oral cancer and have increased the likelihood of detecting and treating the condition in time. The dentist will take time to examine the surrounding areas of your jaws and the soft tissues in your mouth to check for signs of oral cancer.

Oral Education

After scraping and checking for abnormalities, the family dentist will treat you and spend time with you discussing the discoveries and concerns. The dentist should advise you to see an expert if the condition is severe or guide you on how to take care of your teeth to avoid future problems. 

Dental Cleaning

Dental cleaning is another essential service that anyone can receive from a family dentist. Everyone should consider seeking this service even without any issues related to cavities and throbbing teeth. You should look for dental cleaning every three to six months. Typically, a dental cleaning process would take several steps. These steps are as follows. 

  1. Physical Exam

A family dentist should examine your teeth before a dental cleaning process. The dentist will use a small mirror to evaluate any signs of potential dental concerns such as gingivitis.

  1. Removal of Plaque and Tartar

Your dentist will proceed to clean plaque and tartar around your gum using a scaler and a small mirror. During this process, you will hear scraping noises, but they are obvious. If you have more tartar, the more time you expect the scraping process.

  1. Cleaning Gritty Toothpaste

Once the dentist has removed all the tarter, they will use a high-powered electric brush to remove any tartar that was left behind. This process usually makes grinding noises, which are normal.

The dentist will use toothpaste similar to regular toothpaste, though they usually provide different flavors to choose from. The process might seem gritty, but it is safe to do it at least twice a year if handled by a professional.

  1. Expert Flossing

No process is better than expert flossing, whether you floss regularly at home or not.  Your family dentist can reach deep areas between your teeth and locate potential trouble spots. This might seem pointless if you floss at home, but it will help you to a great extent more than you would imagine. 

  1. Debris Removal

Next, the dentist will rinse your mouth to remove any debris. The rinsing process is usually done using a fluid that consists of liquid fluoride.

  1. Application of Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride treatment is usually the final step in tooth cleaning. This step should protect your teeth and help them fight cavities for several months.

If you expect to rely on a professional specialized in dental cleaning, a dental hygienist would be the best option to choose.

Nutritional Counselling

Oral health primarily relies on the willingness to clean your teeth. However, nutrition and the use of alcohol or tobacco plays a role in your oral health. That’s why family dentists offer nutritional counseling as one of the services that they can offer.

Nutritional counseling begins with an initial assessment of your dental history and potential risks of diseases. The dentist will also analyze your dieting preference to pinpoint strategies that would enhance your dental health.

This service recognizes that a patient’s diet contributes to several types of oral diseases. Therefore, when a patient is engaged in nutritional counseling, the risk of dental conditions related to nutrition will reduce. You should regularly meet with your family dentist for nutritional counseling and learn how your consumption behavior increases the risk of caries and other oral health problems. The dentist will teach you how to change your behaviors to reduce exposure to cariogenic foods and beverages. For instance, the dentist can recommend structured times for meals and snacks with less than five eating breaks to decrease the risk. 

Tooth Extraction

Your family dentist might recommend removing your permanent tooth, although it is expected to last a lifetime. There are several reasons why you should seek this service. A very common reason for your tooth extraction is having a severely damaged tooth due to tooth decay or trauma. Other reasons include:

  • Having a crowded mouth: Sometimes, your family dentist might decide to pull some teeth to align your teeth. He or she might also decide on tooth extraction if there is no room for a tooth that does not break through the gum
  • Infection: If you have a severe tooth infection that cannot be corrected through a root canal therapy, your family dentist can recommend tooth extraction as your remedy
  • Risk of infection: If you have a compromised immune system, you can increase the risk of infection to a particular tooth, and this might be enough reason to have your tooth pulled out. Some of the situations that increase the risk of infection include organ transplant and chemotherapy

There are usually two types of extraction that a person might have. This includes simple extraction and surgical extraction. Simple removal is done on a tooth that is seen in the mouth. This is a standard service provided by general dentists. During this process, the dentist will numb your tooth and gum tissues and loosen it with an elevator before removing it using dental forceps.

On the other hand, surgical extraction is a more complicated procedure used to remove broken teeth from the gum line. It is also suitable for extracting a tooth that has not come into the mouth. Oral surgeons usually perform this process, but family dentists can handle it. During the surgical procedure, the dentist will make a small cut into your gum and remove the underlying tooth. Sometimes the dentist might remove some of the bone around the tooth or cut it in half to remove it. 

Once the dentist has completed the process, you will be advised on the best recovery remedies. Some of these remedies include taking prescribed medication, applying an ice pack on your cheek, and resting 24 hours.

Emergency Dentistry

Family dentists also can provide emergency dentistry to their patients. Emergency dentistry is suitable for dental problems that are potentially serious and can lead to permanent damage if ignored. Dental emergencies can happen very fast, and sometimes patients do not realize what has just happened. Typically, you can seek emergency care or take care of the injury yourself, depending on the nature of the issue.

There are numerous types of dental emergencies, and it is recommendable to know if you have one. The following are some of the most common dental emergencies.

  1. Treatment of Toothaches

If you have a toothache, you should rinse your mouth using warm water. If it continues to swell, press a cold compress against your cheek or side of your mouth. You can also take some acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve the pain before you visit a dentist. However, this does not mean that you should wait for too long before visiting your family dentist.

  1. Cracked Tooth

You should use warm water to clean and rinse your mouth. You should also relieve the pain by pressing a cold compress on your cheek if the situation does not bring down the swelling. It will help if you contact a family dentist to avoid having a significant problem on your hands.

  1. Bleeding from Your Mouth

If your mouth is bleeding, it could indicate a chronic or acute condition. Also, blood in your mouth means that you might have gingivitis or gum disease. However, it is abnormal to bleed from your mouth since your clotting mechanism should prevent continuous bleeding. That’s why you should seek a family dentist for emergency care if you are experiencing unexplained constant bleeding.

  1. Extruded Tooth

Family dentists are the best option when you have a dislodged or extruded tooth. You can use a cold compress to relieve the pain before you visit a dentist’s office. You can also take over the counter medication to ease the pain.

  1. Injured Tongue, Lips, or Gums

If you cut your tongue, it might appear as if it is not bleeding a lot. However, it is recommendable to seek help from your family dentist to have the problem handled promptly and accordingly. The same applies to injured gums or lips.

Benefits of Hiring a Family Dentist

There are several advantages of choosing a family dentist over other dentists. It would help if you learned about these advantages to make your choice worthwhile. Here are several benefits of hiring a family dentist that you should know about.

Family Dentists Are Convenient

Since family dentists are equipped to provide treatment for patients of all ages and various dental problems, they do not have to seek help in different dental clinics to offer their family members regular dental checkups. For instance, if you want your cosmetic needs handled and regular dental checkups, a family dentist would be the best option to consider.

Family Dentists Are Well-versed with The History of your Dental Health

Family dentistry is a suitable medical service dental since it is consistent and maintains records. Once you visit the dentist for a while, they will record your dental health, special needs, allergies, or requirements. Such history is necessary for several reasons. For instance, the dentist will know when you had your last check-up, the day that your crowns were installed, and easily monitor your oral health and develop a treatment plan that suits you. 

Family Dentists Develop a Personal and Trusting Relationship

Maintaining a personal relationship is about trust. Trust allows open and respectful communication, and there is nothing better than that in dental appointments. Communication is easier with someone you trust since you can freely talk about your fears. Your family dentist will also make excellent recommendations when exploring treatments such as orthodontics.

Family Dentist’s Knowledge About Your Teeth and Gums Is Helpful in Your Oral Health

When you visit the same dentist, they will know about any changes in your teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues. For instance, a sudden discoloration or lesion would be apparent to the family dentist and refer you to a specialist or recommend further examination. Once a family dentist identifies a condition such as oral cancer, you can initiate treatment more quickly and reduce severe cases.

Family Dentists Are Ideal in Oral Education and Updates

As we have learned earlier, family dentists offer oral education and updates to their patients. They can instruct you about your daily oral care routines, diet selection, and other considerations suitable for your oral health. They will also give you updates on your family oral health and the latest dentistry technologies that can help your family’s general oral care. 

Flexibility in Appointment Schedule

Most family dentists work with patients for an appointment that suits their patients. For instance, a family dentist is willing to take late appointments and accommodate their patients’ needs.

Family Dentists Are Easy to Work With If You Are Using a Health Insurance

If you rely on health insurance for your dental coverage, you can provide your details on your first visit. From that point, your dentist will conveniently direct your bills to your insurer without inconveniencing you or your finances.

Find a Family Dentist Near Me

If you are looking for a dentist who can take care of your family’s oral health, a family dentist would be the best choice. However, you should not settle on any dentist but find someone who can provide excellent dental services. At Northridge Dentist, we pride ourselves on providing the best dental care services to families. If you have been looking for a new dentist for your family in Northridge, CA, look no further. Contact us today at 818-875-0216 to learn more about the family dentistry services we offer and schedule a visit with our team.