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Your oral health is a large part of your overall health. The lack of oral care can lead to more serious problems such as infections and diseases. Studies have also shown the lack of proper oral hygiene can contribute to diabetes and heart problems. It’s very important to take care of your teeth and mouth regularly. With the help of a professional licensed dentist you can ensure your oral health is taken care of. But what exactly is your Twin Falls dentist all about and what do they do?

What is a Dentist?

A dentist is a doctor who specializes in oral health who has obtained a degree in either Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Surgery (DDS) from a school that’s accredited by the American Dental Association.Dental Graduation Both degrees are quite similar and take the same amount of time to complete. At a full time schedule, it takes four years to complete the dental program. Dental schools look for applicants that have high overall grades especially in the prerequisite courses like biology, chemistry, physics and biochemistry. It’s not required to obtain your bachelors before entering into a dental school but it definitely helps boost you above the other applicants. Most dental applicants who get a bachelors get their Bachelor of Science degree. Applicants also have to take a preliminary Dental Admissions Test, and a high score is expected for admissions. Once accepted into the dental school, the dentist in training will take courses in dental anatomy, physiology, pathology, neuroscience, pharmacology, dental anesthesiology and many others. Dental programs also focus on how to manage a clinic and how to work with the many different patients.

At the end of the program, dental students will take both a written and clinical exam. The written exam is required by the National Board Dental Examinations and generally consists of two parts. Each state has different licensing requirements and the clinical exam will vary from state to state as well. Once the dental student passes all the exams and obtains the proper state licensing they may begin seeing patients. Some specialty areas of dentistry require you to take additional training in a two to four-year residency program related to the specialty they chose. Advanced dental training can take an additional two to five years depending on the program.

What Does a Dentist Do?

A dentist is the lead of a dental team that includes dental assistants, lab technicians, dental hygienists and office staff such as the receptionists. A dentist has many options on where to work and also what type of work to specialize in. They can practice general dentistry or choose to specialize in an area such as orthodontics, oral surgery or pediatric dentistry. Some responsibilities of a dentist include:

  • Examine x-rays and perform diagnostics
  • Repair cracked or fractured teeth
  • Perform extractions
  • Properly administer anesthetics
  • Fill cavities and remove tooth decay
  • Root canals
  • Teach patients proper oral care
  • Create treatment plans to help maintain or restore oral health

Dental X-ray

Your dentist is more than just a tooth cleaner and checker. Dentists not only make sure your teeth are clean and cared for they check for diseases within your mouth such as gingivitis, a gum disease. They also can check for oral cancer, diabetes or a vitamin deficiency. Many dentists will also perform a head and neck evaluation, including your bite and lower jaw movement to look for TMJ (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction). Research has shown that about 90 percent of all systemic diseases, a disease that affects multiple organs of the body, include oral symptoms. Gum problems such as swelling and bleeding, mouth ulcers, dry mouth and bad breath are some signs of a bigger problem. Some of these bigger health problems include diabetes, kidney disease, leukemia, heart disease and pancreatic cancer. With the help of your dentist you may be able to spot these warning signs early on and be referred to a specialist who can help you get your health back on track.

Root Canals

Has your dentist told you that you need a root canal? If so, you are not the only one. Each year, millions of teeth are treated and saved by root canal Rootcanal1treatment. But what does that mean? Why would you need a root canal? What does it involve?

To better understand a root canal, it is good to know a little about the anatomy of a tooth. There are many layers to teeth: the outer, white enamel layer; the hard dentin layer; and the soft tissue, or pulp. This pulp contains nerves and connective tissue and blood vessels, and it helps your teeth grow during the development stages. When your teeth are fully developed, they can survive without the pulp because they continue to be nourished by the tissues surrounding them.

A root canal, or Endodontic treatment, will treat the inside of a tooth. It is necessary when the pulp, or inside of the tooth, becomes infected. Inflammation or infection can be caused by a variety of reasons: a chip or crack in the tooth, deep decay, faulty crowns, repeated dental treatment on the tooth, or even trauma. Trauma to the tooth can cause damage even if there are no visible chips or cracks. If the inflammation or infection of the pulp is left untreated, it can cause an abscess.

During a root canal, the infected pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned, filled, and then sealed with a rubbery material called Gutta-percha. Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After the restoration is complete, the tooth will continue to function as it did before.

Contrary to what you might hear, modern root canal treatment is very similar to having a filling and usually is completed within one or two appointments. Endodontic treatment can help you maintain your natural smile. After your root canal, you can expect to continue chewing, eating, and biting as you would normally.

Rootcanal2Will your tooth hurt after the root canal? Just like any surgery, you will need time to heal. Sometimes this can be uncomfortable; however, time will make the pain go away. If you experience severe or prolonged pain for any amount of time, additional treatment may be necessary. In any case, if you have any questions, please contact your dental provider.

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing, which is the most common form of treatment for periodontal disease, cleans the area between the gums and the teeth all the way down to the roots. It removes calculus and plaque attached to the surfaces of the tooth, and especially targets the area below the gum line. It is recommended to do this procedure as soon you notice that your gums have started to pull away from the teeth or when roots have plaque deposits on them.

Local anesthetic might have to be used during the procedure, and antibiotic fibers can be placed into the pockets between the teeth and gums to help speed healing and prevent infection. Scaling and root planing stops the progression of gum disease, and with good dental hygiene your gums should heal quite quickly after the procedure and regain their pink color again. Lack of brushing and flossing after the procedure will not only slow down the recovery, but can also cause the disease to return and get worse.


Dental sealants are a treatment meant to prevent cavities. It is a thin coating made of plastic which is applied on the chewing surface of the teeth, usually on the premolars and molars. It bonds with the grooves of the teeth, and protects from cavities by blocking germs and food particles from getting stuck in the nooks and crannies of your teeth.

In essence it seals them out, hence the name. Several studies have proven that professionally applied sealant by your dentist can be up to a hundred percent effective in protecting surface of your teeth from cavities. Permanent molars are most likely to benefit from sealants, making children and teenagers the best candidates for them. The first molars usually grow around age six, while second molars appear at around twelve years old. The most efficient approach is to apply the sealant as soon as possible after teeth have pushed through, thereby not giving them a chance to decay. They will last for up to 10 years, so only one visit should be enough.

Other Dental Office Duties

Along with the obvious dental care work, a dentist is also included in the back workings of the office. They will participate in overseeing a variety of administrative tasks including the hiring and employment care of the dental staff, bookkeeping and the equipment and supplies purchasing. Being a dentist takes a lot of hard work and dedication to the trade. Some important qualities for a dentist to have are great communication, leadership and organizational skills. You want a dentist that is patient and has compassion for their patients. Also, the ability to problem solve and be creative with the solutions is a key trait to have. Each patient is different with their needs and it’s important to have a dentist who takes the time to listen and find a solution that works best for the patient.

At the end of the day being a dentist is a very fulfilling and rewarding career to have. With all the hard work, commitment and dedication put forth to become a dentist, the end results are well worth it. A stable career with great pay, patients who trust and admire you and the ability to make a change in so many people’s lives are all amazing reasons to pursue dentistry. Now you know more about how your Twin Falls dentist came to be. Next time you call in for your appointment, take a minute to thank your dentist for all that they do.

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