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General Dentistry

General dentistry is the branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of a wide range of oral health problems. This includes basic procedures such as teeth cleaning and fillings, as well as more complex procedures such as root canals and extractions.  General dentists also provide guidance on how to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent future oral health problems. This preventative approach is one of the most important aspects of general dentistry — as it turns a focus towards preventing problems before they have the chance to occur or evolve.

Some common services provided by general dentists include the following: 

  • Teeth cleanings
  • Oral examinations
  • Dental crowns
  • Dental bridges

In addition to these basic services, general dental care providers work to establish connections with their patients and motivate them to take charge of their health at home. By providing educational resources, tips, and recommendations, general dentistry forms the foundation of healthy smiles throughout Lake Forest, CA. 

To learn more about our general dentistry services, please read below!

Cleanings & Exams

Routine dental cleanings and examinations are an important part of preventive dental care. They help to keep the teeth and gums well maintained and can also ensure early detection of tooth decay or gum disease. We recommend these appointments at least every six months.

  • During a dental cleaning, the dentist or dental hygienist will use special instruments to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. They will also polish your teeth and carefully floss between them. 
  • During a dental examination, the dentist will examine your teeth and gums for signs of tooth decay or gum disease. They will also check your bite and jaws for any problems. If necessary, the dentist may take x-rays of your teeth to look for any problems hidden between the teeth, inside the root canals, or below the gum line.

Pediatric Dentistry

Pediatric dentistry is a subspecialty of dental care that deals with the oral health of infants, children, and adolescents. While this involves many of the same dental services we would provide adults (cleanings, exams, fillings, etc.), the pediatric focus is catered specifically towards the oral anatomy of children while accommodating their experience. 

Pediatric dentists are prepared to provide care for children of all ages while meeting their developmental needs as they grow. They are specially trained in child growth and behavior, so they can help your child feel comfortable and relaxed during dental appointments.

Tooth Extractions

Tooth extractions are a type of dental procedure that involves removing one or more teeth from the mouth. There are a variety of reasons why someone might need to have a tooth extracted – including decay, infection, trauma, and crowding. 

Tooth extractions are usually considered to be a relatively simple and straightforward procedure. In many cases, the tooth will be gently loosened and removed from the mouth using special tools paired with a local anesthetic. If the tooth is difficult to access or has not emerged from the gum tissue, we may perform a surgical extraction. This is a more complex procedure that involves making an incision in the gums and removing the tooth through the opening. The area is then sutured closed for healing.


Dental fillings are used to restore teeth that have been damaged by decay. Once a cavity begins to erode the tooth enamel, the dentist carefully removes the decaying area and fills the tooth with composite material. The composite filling is incredibly durable and capable of withstanding the pressure exerted by bite force. Additionally, it can match the shade of the natural teeth to ensure a blendable appearance. Upon placement, the filling prevents decay from further penetrating the tooth or leading to further damage.

Crowns & Bridges

Dental crowns are prosthetic restorative appliances that are designed to encapsulate a damaged tooth and prevent it from suffering further harm. Once a cavity grows substantially in size or reaches the interior chamber of the tooth, a dental crown is needed to preserve the remaining tooth structure. Crowns may also be used to restore teeth that are broken, fractured, or otherwise damaged beyond repair with a filling. These appliances are usually made of porcelain or ceramic and are custom-made to match the color of your natural teeth — ensuring a blendable appearance.

Bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth. They usually consist of two crowns that go over the teeth on either side of the empty space with a false tooth or teeth in between. Bridges are made to match your natural teeth and can greatly improve the appearance of your smile. They also help to keep your remaining teeth from shifting into the open space and becoming misaligned.

Root Canals

A root canal is a treatment used to save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed from the tooth and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Root canals are necessary when the nerve of a tooth becomes compromised. This can happen due to decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth that reached the interior tooth chamber. 

Root canals are relatively simple procedures that have an incredibly high success rate. In most cases, the treated tooth can last a lifetime with the protection of a dental crown. However, root canal-treated teeth may be more susceptible to fracture, so it is important to take care of the tooth and replace your crown when recommended by our providers.

Oral Cancer Screenings

Oral cancer screenings are important for detecting oral cancer in its earliest stages. During this time, the cancer may be easier to treat without causing substantial compromise to your health.

As a part of an oral cancer screening, our dental care provider will examine your mouth and throat for any signs of cancer. They may be looking for red or white oral patches, ulcers, growths, or anything else that appears abnormal. If anything suspicious is found, a biopsy may be recommended in order to determine if the tissue is cancerous. Oral cancer screenings are quick and easy, and we perform them as a part of every dental checkup.

If you have any concerns about oral cancer, or if it runs in your family, be sure to talk to your dental care provider about additional symptoms you can watch out for at home. Among the most common symptoms of oral cancer are persistent or reoccurring sores on the lips, tongue, or gum tissue.

TMJ Therapy

TMJ therapy is a type of treatment that is used to address pain and dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint. This joint acts as a connection point between the skull and jawbone — allowing the mouth to open and close. When inflamed, the joint can cause pain, lockjaw, and jaw clenching. 

The goal of TMJ therapy is to help relieve discomfort, improve jaw function, and reduce any associated headaches, earaches, bruxism, or other symptoms. There are a number of different approaches that may be used in TMJ therapy, including jaw joint exercises, lifestyle changes, or mouthguard appliances. In some cases, more invasive treatments such as surgery may be necessary; however, most people are able to find relief with non-surgical TMJ therapy.  

If you are experiencing any pain while chewing, speaking, or simply opening and closing your mouth, TMJ therapy may be able to help! Call today to learn more about our treatment options.

Call us today to schedule an appointment and find out for yourself what makes Smiles West of Lake Forest stand out!

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    Our Stance on COVID-19

    We understand that this is an unprecedented time for many patients with the coronavirus still being an active concern. However, more than ever before, your oral health plays a crucial role in your overall health. The mouth is the gateway to the body, but when common oral infection and disease take hold, it impacts your immune system! This can make you more susceptible to becoming sick in the future. Your best defense is good oral health, and maintaining your regular dental appointments makes that possible. We are following all CDC guidelines to provide our patients and team with a healthy and safe environment to provide life changing dental care.