Dental health affects your ability to speak, smile and eat.

Oral diseases—which range from cavities to gum disease to oral cancer—cause pain and disability for millions of Americans. Cavities (also called tooth decay) are one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States. Dentistry allows specialists to provide oral care via assessment, diagnosis and treatment to improve dental health and well-being.

Dental Care and Health

Dentistry is a specialty that focuses on a patient’s oral health and well-being. Oral health is linked with chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. Dentists diagnose and treat diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth and mouth. Dentists also:

  • Improve a patient’s appearance.
  • Perform surgical procedures, such as implants, tissue grafts and extractions.
  • Educate patients on how to better care for their teeth and prevent oral disease.
  • Teach future dentists and dental hygienists.
  • Perform research directed to improving oral health and developing new treatment methods.

Signs you should visit a dentist:

  • Teeth are sensitive to hot or cold
  • Gums are puffy and/or they bleed when you brush or floss
  • You have fillings, crowns, dental implants, dentures, etc.
  • You don’t like the way your smile or teeth look
  • Dry mouth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
  • You are pregnant
  • Pain or swelling in your mouth, face or neck
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Family history of gum disease or tooth decay
  • You have a medical condition, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, eating disorders or are HIV positive
  • You smoke or use other tobacco products
  • Undergoing medical treatment, such as, radiation, chemotherapy or hormone replacement therapy
  • Jaw sometimes pops or is painful when opening and closing, chewing or when you first wake up; you have an uneven bite
  • You have a spot or sore that doesn’t look or feel right in your mouth and it isn’t going away