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DENTISTS: DOCTORS OF ORAL HEALTH

July 3, 2014

Suffering from tooth decay, gum disease and injuries? Can’t sleep every night because of toothache? Don’t worry because dentists are ready to rescue your teeth and gums from disease and germs.

Cavities are still the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood. Too many people mistakenly believe that they need to see a dentist only if they are in pain or think something is wrong, but they are missing the bigger picture. A dental visit means being examined by a doctor of oral health capable of diagnosing and treating conditions that can range to extremely complex.

Dentists treat and prevent dental and oral health problems such as tooth decay, gums disease and injuries. They can also offer advice and tips on how to care your mouth and teeth. Dentists are doctors who specialize in oral health. Their responsibilities include:

  • Diagnosing oral diseases.
  • Promoting oral health and disease prevention.
  • Creating treatment plans to maintain or restore the oral health of their patients.
  • Interpreting x-rays and diagnostic tests.
  • Ensuring the safe administration of anesthetics.
  • Monitoring growth and development of the teeth and jaws.
  • Performing surgical procedures on the teeth, bone and soft tissues of the oral cavity.

Dentists' oversight is critical to ensuring safe and effective oral care. Even seemingly routine procedures such as tooth extractions, preparing and placing fillings or administering anesthetics carry potential risks of complications such as infection, temporary or even permanent nerve damage, prolonged bleeding, hematomas and pain.

Dentists' areas of care include not only their patients' teeth and gums but also the muscles of the head, neck and jaw, the tongue, salivary glands, the nervous system of the head and neck and other areas. During a comprehensive exam, dentists examine the teeth and gums, but they also look for lumps, swellings, discolorations, ulcerations — any abnormality. When appropriate, they perform procedures such as biopsies, diagnostic tests for chronic or infectious diseases, salivary gland function, and screening tests for oral cancer.

In addition, dentists can spot early warning signs in the mouth that may indicate disease elsewhere in the body. Dentists' training also enables them to recognize situations that warrant referring patients for care by dental specialists or physicians

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