Cleanings and Prevention
Receiving regular dental cleanings and exams is crucial in keeping your mouth healthy and your smile beautiful. This routine preventive care helps our dentist to monitor your oral health and provide prompt treatment for any developing problems.
A comprehensive dental exam is performed at your initial dental visit. Regular check-up exams include the following:
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
- Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer or other abnormalities.
- Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
- Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay.
- Examination of existing restorations and appliances: Check current fillings, crowns, dental implants, dentures, partial dentures, orthodontic retainers, night guards to prevent tooth grinding damage and bridges.
Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are performed by Registered Dental Hygienists. Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:
- Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with dental instruments.
- Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (metabolic bi-products) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
- Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
- Education: During your visits you can count on candid discussions about your dental needs. You will receive a customized treatment plan to help you accomplish your dental health goals. Your dental hygienist and Gilbert dentist will listen and address your concerns.
Always remember that carefully brushing, flossing, and consuming healthy foods can keep your smile healthy and beautiful. Dental cleanings and exams from your dental office can also prevent problems like cavities, tartar build-up, and periodontal disease. Dental cleanings help remove hardened deposits of tartar, and regular dental exams can catch the early signs of periodontal disease.
More preventative actions and treatments include sealants and fluoride. These can help protect teeth, and actually prevent cavities and other permanent damage to teeth.
Prevention helps avoid serious and costly dental problems and is the key to having a healthy, confident, beautiful smile.
Dental radiographs (x-rays) are preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
Dental x-rays may reveal:
- Abscesses or cysts.
- Bone loss.
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
- Decay between the teeth.
- Developmental abnormalities.
- Congenitally missing teeth
- Poor tooth and root positions.
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered extremely safe. Dentists take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation when taking dental x-rays. It is important to note, that we are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment, and the amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day naturally. To help reduce the amount of exposure from dental x-rays, we only use digital x-rays in our office and we take the minimum amount of films to properly care for you and your family.
How often should dental x-rays be taken?
The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease.
A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is updated every 3-5 years. Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at check-up visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems. Periapical X-rays are taken to show the roots of the tooth.