Dentistry is a specialized branch of medicine that deals with the study, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity (mouth with all structures within including teeth, gums, tongue, etc.). As per World Health Organization (WHO), it is appropriately defined as the ‘art and science’ of preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth, jaws and mouth. It is really an art as well as science which makes smiles better while also treating many diseases.
A dentist is a medical professional who aims to improve the quality of lives by preventing and treating oral diseases and conditions. The dentist's supporting team is also very important, and it aids in providing oral health services and also handling many procedures apart from assisting the dentist. It includes dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and in some states, dental therapists.
The dentists achieve the above by:
- Promoting good oral health practices and educating people about them
- Patient education
- Diagnosing dental diseases and conditions including dental decay, gum diseases, etc.
- They may also diagnose some general conditions by just looking at oral cavity, because some diseases and conditions have oral manifestations
- Providing preventive dental and oral care, like restoring slightly decayed teeth, covering them with thin layer of restorative materials, providing treatments to prevent further problems by cleaning, scaling, root planning, application of fluoride, etc.
- Prescribing appropriate medicines to treat some oral diseases, to prevent or allay infections, and for all three prophylactic, preventive and promotive purposes
- Treating and restoring decayed teeth by appropriate materials
- Replacing lost teeth by implants, dentures, partial dentures, etc.
- Treating other conditions of mouth, related structures and even jaw
- Also undertaking some surgical procedures, most common of them being tooth extraction
- Providing orthodontic treatment to adjust and correct mal-aligned teeth
- And many other functions as per further specialization.
Bad Breath or Halitosis
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Most, if not all of them, really do not work very long and some make the problem worse. Alcohol based mouthwashes can, for example, dry out the tissues in the mouth and cause the tissues to worsen the condition over time.
Odors coming from the stomach are almost never the cause of chronic bad breath
Three simple methods to help you test yourself for bad breath are as follows:
Many people have questions regarding their breath. Many are unable to tell if they have bad breath. Often times, you will hear a friend talk about someone else’s horrible breath, yet never tell the other person. A simple technique one can perform on their own, is to take a bad breath self–test which involves a few simple steps:
- Take a dry, clean unscented cloth and retract the tongue with one hand and scrub the furthest part of your tongue for about 5 seconds. This should include about 4 good scrubs. Wait approximately 30 seconds and smell the cloth. If it has a bad smell, it may signify halitosis.
- Take a piece of unwaxed, unscented floss and floss the upper or lower posterior teeth. Usually 2 to 3 teeth should be sufficient. Wait about 30 seconds and smell the floss. Again, if it has a smell, one may have halitosis.
- Lick the back part of your hand (not the palm side), for about 5 seconds. Wait about 30 seconds. If you smell a bad odor this too may indicate halitosis. These are some of the simple techniques one can use to help determine if they have bad breath. By brushing , flossing and gently brushing your tongue and visiting the dentist regularly, you may reduce the level of bad breath. If this does not help, your dentist can place you on an anti–halitosis program to help alleviate the problem.