Why are Consistent Dental Exams Important?
Many people mistakenly assume that if nothing hurts, then nothing is wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to your mouth, that is a dangerous myth. Waiting until something hurts in your teeth and/or gums often leads to extensive dental problems that are very expensive to treat.
Consistent dental evaluations not only catch developing dental problems in their earliest stages; they also allow our dentists to spot warning signs of potential problems. These warning signs tell us what specific risk factors you have for various dental diseases. Some people have a high risk for developing new cavities between visits. Others have a low risk for cavities and gum disease but are in danger of fracturing their teeth from heavy clenching and grinding while they sleep.
Identifying risk factors is an essential part of preventive dentistry. If we do not see you on a consistent basis, we are less likely to catch these red flags before they become a problem needing treatment.
Why are Consistent Professional Cleanings Important?
Did you know that gum disease increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease? Having clean, healthy teeth is not just about preventing cavities and gum disease. It actually improves your overall health and increases your lifespan.
During a professional teeth cleaning, our skilled dental hygienists remove dangerous deposits of bacteria from the teeth. This includes both soft plaque buildup and hard tartar. They both contain bacteria that releases toxins into the gum tissues, leading to inflammation. Without the intervention of a professional teeth cleaning, that inflammation becomes chronic and leads to other health problems.
After removing the bacterial buildup, your hygienist then polishes the teeth, which removes surface stains and brightens your smile. The polishing step also leaves the surface of the teeth glossy and smooth, so that it is less likely to attract more plaque and stain.
Consistent professional teeth cleanings keep your teeth and gums healthy, remove unsightly stains, and lower your risk for serious health problems.
Why are Consistent Dental X-rays Important?
Most dental problems, like cavities, gum pockets, and bone loss, are not visible to the naked eye until they have reached a moderate or severe stage. Catching dental problems in their early stages is impossible without consistent x-rays.
Our yearly dental x-rays show a detailed picture of all of the hard tissue structures in the mouth: the tooth’s enamel, underlying dentin, and surrounding jawbone. In addition to progressive dental diseases, we use dental x-rays to screen for developmental problems in teeth as well as tumors, cysts or masses in the jaws.
By comparing current images with past one, your dentists are able to track any changes in your dental health or in your specific areas of risk. Spotting these changes allows us to give you various options to prevent expensive dental problems.
What is an Oral Cancer Screening?
At each dental evaluation of your mouth, our dentists perform an oral cancer screening. During an oral cancer screening, we meticulously evaluate all of the soft tissues in your mouth for signs of suspicious changes that could be cancerous. Due to the increased incidence of oral cancer in younger people with no history of alcohol or tobacco use, oral cancer screenings are more important than ever before!
The key to successful treatment of oral cancer is early detection. When caught early, oral cancer has a very high survival rate.
Home Care between Cleanings
Those who see the dentist and dental hygienist consistently typically keep a six-month schedule. At each visit, our skilled hygienists remove all of the bacterial buildup from the teeth and give you a clean slate. Then we put the ball in your court.
Between your professional teeth cleanings, your job is to practice good oral hygiene at home. When you clean your teeth well at home, not only are your teeth and gums healthier; your professional teeth cleanings become more comfortable and shorter! A good home care routine always includes:
- Brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush in gentle circular motions that lightly touch the gums on each surface of every tooth
- Flossing nightly before bed in a C-shaped pattern that cleans plaque and debris from between every tooth
- Using mouthwash as recommended by your dentist and hygienist (some people need a pre-brush rinse, and others need to rinse after brushing and flossing)
- Consistently using any additional oral hygiene accessories your dentist and/or hygienist recommend for any specific needs (for example, ProxaBrush Go-Betweens for areas beneath dental implants)
Frequently Asked Questions
How often do I really need to see a dentist?
Children, teens, and adults should all see a dentist for a regular checkup at least once every six months. Patients who are at a greater risk for oral cancer or gum disease may be required to come in more than just twice a year. We will help determine how often you should visit our office for regular checkups.
I take care of my teeth. Do I still need to see a dentist regularly?
No matter how good your home care is, there are often areas of the mouth you can miss. Waiting until something hurts to see a dentist always leads to more extensive and more expensive dental treatments.
Does my dental insurance pay for teeth cleanings?
Yes, in most cases.
Most dental insurance benefits cover teeth cleanings at a very high rate. Because each plan is slightly different, the actual amount you may owe varies. To find out your potential cost for teeth cleanings, give us a call and have your dental insurance information handy.
Teeth cleanings hurt because my teeth are sensitive. What can I do?
First of all, tell your dentist and dental hygienist. We have certain products and techniques we can use to reduce sensitivity during a teeth cleaning.
Also, you should begin using a sensitivity toothpaste and mouthwash two weeks prior to your teeth cleaning. This can act to prevent increased sensitivity during the cleaning itself.
Why do my gums hurt during teeth cleanings?
If the gums have inflammation (swelling, redness, tenderness), this can cause tenderness or pain during a professional teeth cleaning. This often results from allowing a long period of time to pass between teeth cleanings (more than six months) or failing to properly clean a certain area in your mouth. Make sure you let your dental hygienist know which specific areas are tender during the cleaning and ask for recommendations to reduce the inflammation in that area.
Are dental x-rays safe?
Advances in dental technology have made our x-rays safer than ever before. The amount of radiation the yearly dental x-rays expose a patient to is minimal. If you are concerned about radiation from dental x-rays, our dentists can discuss this with you and alleviate any fears you may have.
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