A comprehensive dental evaluation will be performed by your dentist at your initial dental visit. During periodic check-ups, your dentist or hygienist will include the following:
- Examination of tooth decay — All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
- Gum disease evaluation — Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
- 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
- Examination of existing restorations — Check stability of current fillings, crowns, etc.
Professional Dental Cleaning
In our office, professional dental cleanings 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 sometime and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line, and can only be removed with special 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 (poisons) 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.
Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) to capture and store the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged, helping the dentist and dental hygienist detect problems more easily.
Dental x-rays are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam.
Simply put, without x-rays, problem areas can go undetected. Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort…and your teeth!
What do dental x-rays reveal?
- Abscesses or cysts
- Bone loss
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
- Decay between the teeth
- Developmental abnormalities
- Poor tooth and root positions
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line
Are dental x-rays safe?
The short answer? Yes. Digital images reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital images produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital images better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take! Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the images, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.
Even though digital images produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, our office still takes necessary precautions to limit our patients’ exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those images that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.
How often should dental x-rays be taken?
A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at preventative care visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.
Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay! It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations.
Fluoride Works in Two Ways
Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. Most people get enough topical fluoride by using dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels that contain flouride.
Systemic fluoride strengthens the teeth that have erupted as well as those that are developing under the gums. We gain systemic fluoride from most foods and our community water supplies. It is also available as a supplement in drop or gel form and can be prescribed by your dentist or physician.
Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay. Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:
- Deep pits and fissures on the surface of teeth.
- Exposed and sensitive root surfaces.
- Proof of inadequate exposure to fluorides.
- Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments or medications.
- Recent history of dental decay.
Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks and drinks and visit your dentist on a regular basis.
A sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of molars, premolars and any deep grooves (called pits and fissures) of teeth. A sealant protects the tooth by sealing deep grooves, creating a smooth, easy to clean surface.
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for many years, but need to be checked for wear and chipping at regular dental visits.
Who should get dental sealants?
- Children and teenagers – As soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear or any time throughout the cavity prone years of 6-16.
- Adults – Tooth surfaces without decay that have deep grooves or depressions.
- Baby teeth – Occasionally done if teeth have deep grooves or depressions and child is cavity prone.
What is the dental sealant process?
- Sealants are easily applied by your dentist or dental hygienist and the process takes only a couple of minutes per tooth.
- The teeth to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and then surrounded with cotton to keep the area dry.
- A special solution is applied to the enamel surface to help the sealant bond to the teeth.
- The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
- Sealant material is carefully painted onto the enamel surface to cover the deep grooves or depressions. Depending on the type of sealant used, the material will either harden automatically or with a special curing light.
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