With the growing popularity of dental implants as a solution for lost or missing teeth, there’s been a great deal of discussion of the difference between dental implants and general dentistry. While both are important and can improve the patient’s quality of life, they do distinct things and work in different ways. To help clear up some of the questions many people have about general dentistry vs dental implants, here’s a bit more information about the two.
General dentistry is the most common branch of dentistry, focused on the care and prevention of oral health conditions, diseases, and disorders. Most dentists are general dentists, and they’re the ones that provide you with regular dental care and the people you see first if you have a problem with your teeth. While a great many general dentists also take on other specialties in order to diversify their practice, the foundation of general dentistry is common in dentists’ offices around the country.
So what kind of services fall under general dentistry? Most common kinds of dental care do, including the following:
- Exams are the basic checkups of the dental world, and a chance for your dentist and dental hygienists to look over your teeth and gums and see if any potential problems exist. Your dentist may decide to give you a series of dental x-rays along with an exam, to get a deeper look into what’s going on with your teeth.
- Teeth cleanings are an essential service provided by general dentists and are often part of your dental exam. Your dentist and their dental hygienist will use a variety of tools to remove debris, plaque, and tartar from your teeth. This helps keep your teeth and gums healthy with a deeper cleaning than your regular brushing and flossing routine can provide.
- Fixing cavities and chipped teeth is a big part of general dentistry. Your dentist’s office has the tools and knows how to repair most minor forms of tooth damage, and some serious ones, too.
- Bridges, crowns, and other common ways of fixing a misspaced, malformed, or damaged tooth also fall under general dentistry. This can include dental veneers and inlays or onlays.
- Dentures are another common service that falls under general dentistry. Most dentists’ offices can make and fit the dentures you need, and teach you how to wear them and take care of them.
Dental implants are a popular kind of dental prosthesis. Your general dentist may do implants in-office, or they may refer you to a specialist if you need an implant. Implants are in part a surgical procedure, which replaces a natural tooth with an artificial one. The process goes something like this in most cases:
- If necessary, the damaged or malformed tooth is removed.
- When the empty space is ready, a titanium screw is implanted into the jawbone. This screw protrudes above the gum line and will serve as an attachment point. This implant is allowed to heal in place before the procedure continues. The healing process may take several weeks.
- When everything’s healed and ready, an artificial tooth is attached to the implanted screw. This tooth looks and functions like a natural one, requiring the same kind of care in the form of brushing, flossing, and regular exams and cleanings.
A properly installed dental implant will give a lifetime of service, allowing a natural range of activities as soon as the procedure is complete.
Hopefully, this blog helps clear up some of the questions around general dentistry vs dental implants. As with most dental questions, if you think an implant might be right for you the first step is to talk to your dentist. They can answer any questions you have and suggest what the next best steps might be based on their knowledge of your oral health needs.