Most UK dentists or dentists in your area will provide general dentistry services - with a number of treatment options and procedures designed to maintain your oral health. If you have a sore tooth, bleeding gums, or any pain or discomfort in your mouth, you can consider a general dentist to be pretty much the same as your GP - they can provide a diagnosis of what’s gone wrong with your oral health.
At a dental check-up, your local dentist will go through a routine examination, inspecting your head and neck, jaw, mouth, teeth and gums and looking for any signs of oral health problems, including disease, tooth decay - and in some instances, cancer. Visit your community dentist regularly to spot early signs and treat them before they can progress - a lot of oral health issues can go unnoticed. Your dentist might also use an x-ray to check how your teeth line up when you bite, and look for cavities, checking for bone loss or diseases that may lead to tooth loss.
If the dentist spots signs of an issue, they will be able to provide advice on how to find the right treatment for you:
If your dentist finds a hole in your tooth, they will book you in for a filling in order to treat your tooth cavities. In most cases, a cavity can be treated and restored on the same day - it usually takes half an hour, and is a routine procedure which can be done painlessly.
If you have a damaged tooth, an infected tooth or some form of tooth disease, your dentist might refer you to a local endodontic dentist, where you may receive root canal therapy. If your dentist has discovered a disease or condition that’s affecting the structures that support your teeth, including the gums, the cementum and the alveolar bones, a periodontal dentist will be able to offer surgeries like pocket reduction and gum grafting. A periodontist will be able to help with cases of gum disease in severe or complicated instances. If a tooth needs to be removed fully, a general dentist will be able to conduct a tooth extraction for you.
If you need to have damaged or missing teeth replaced, you may need the assistance of a prosthodontic dentist who will design, make and fit an artificial replacement for your teeth and other areas in our mouth. Dental prosthetics include bridges, dental implants and dentures, in addition to reconstructive surgery and the fitting of veneers and crowns.
If your teeth are not aligning correctly and you have an underbite, crossbite or overbite, you might be referred to an orthodontic specialist who will offer advice on braces, retainers, palate expanders and other specialised treatments including clear aligners. Alternatively, you may need the help of an oral and maxillofacial dentist to extract a wisdom tooth.
Oral surgeons are able to perform extractions as well as align misaligned jaws, correct facial trauma after an accident, conduct a biopsy, graft bones and do implants.
If you are in need of hygiene therapy treatment or professional cleaning and polishing, a dental hygienist can perform a professional clean to remove plaque and tartar that has built up in your mouth. Your hygienist can show you better brushing techniques, help you find a suitable toothbrush, and teach you how to floss correctly in order to remove the plaque yourself.
Some dentists are able to improve the aesthetics of your smile - cosmetic tooth restoration including bonding, veneers and crowns are included in this service, which aims to give you a confident smile. Teeth whitening is a popular treatment which many cosmetic dentists and dental hygienists will be able to offer.
You should aim to visit your local dentist at least twice a year, but it is always important to see a dentist as quickly as possible if you are experiencing discomfort as a result of your teeth or gums.