Is it time for your next dental cleaning? Your prophylaxis actually includes a lot more than “just a cleaning” of your teeth. These preventative care appointments are key to help you intercept disease earlier, minimize overall oral health expenses, and preserve your smile for years to come.
During your six-month checkup, here are just some of the steps involved and why each one is essential to your health:
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is difficult to screen for on your own. Pre-cancerous tissues may be hardly indistinguishable from the ones around them in the earliest stages. By the time they stand out from your other tissues, the cancer is usually in an advanced state.
Routine screenings allow for earlier intervention and treatment, allowing for the best prognosis for our patients. Even if you don’t smoke or use tobacco products, you could still be at risk for this dangerous disease.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Catching it in the earliest stages will help you preserve the health of supporting tissues, allowing you to stabilize your teeth for decades to come!
If you have symptoms of gingivitis — such as swollen gums or bleeding when you brush and floss — then you could have some stage of gum disease. We’ll carefully measure attachment levels around each tooth. Then we’ll evaluate the integrity of your tissues overall to make you aware of any problem areas. If applicable, we’ll develop an appropriate care plan.
Removal of Plaque and Tartar
Now the part of the cleaning you’re used to: the scaling. Your hygienist will physically lift the soft and calcified buildup from your teeth, including areas just under the gumlines. Once all of the deposits are removed, we’ll also polish your enamel to clean away superficial staining that may have accumulated since your last cleaning.
Only a fraction of your tooth surfaces are visible during your checkup. We’ll need to use periodic digital X-rays to evaluate spaces between teeth, around the roots, bone levels, and just under the deep grooves on your chewing surfaces.
We use X-rays for a variety of reasons, including:
- Orthodontic assessments
- Checking tooth eruption patterns
- Screening for cysts, abscesses
- Evaluating impacted teeth
- Visualizing bone levels
- Assessing the presence and extent of tooth decay
- Planning full mouth restoration
Keep in mind that there are different types of X-rays and they’re each used for separate reasons. When and why they’re taken will depend on the situation we’re checking for.
Your bite changes over time. From the early eruption patterns of children’s teeth to shifts in teeth as we age, the alignment of your bite can impact things like tooth wear, TMJ function, and risks for decay. During your exam we’ll check how your teeth bite together (occlusion) to identify areas that may need some type of intervention or orthodontic therapy
Dietary Risk Assessment
If you’re exhibiting signs of extensive tooth erosion or decay, we’ll want to pinpoint factors that may be playing a part. Perhaps you’re increasing your consumption of a particular drink throughout the day, starting using a new inhalation medication, or even have acid reflux disease. Once we have a better understanding of what’s coming into contact with your teeth day after day, we can incorporate preventative techniques that help counteract them. Such as drinking more tap water, rinsing your mouth throughout the day, etc.
Oral Hygiene Instruction
We’ll review different hygiene techniques and cleaning options — such as proxy brushes or water flossers — which can help you reach the areas that need a little more attention. Even if you’re great about brushing your teeth twice a day, there may be hard-to-reach areas with buildup that you’re not aware of. And yes, we’ll probably talk about flossing; after all, brushing only cleans about 2/3 of your tooth surfaces above the gums. We can help you find ways to clean the other areas so that your smile is less at-risk for decay or gum disease.
During your dental exam we’ll assess the health of each tooth, integrity of existing dental restorations, and review all of the findings from your cleaning and X-rays. From there Dr. Huynh will determine if we need to watch anything, plan any upcoming treatments, or order tests like a biopsy. We encourage you to ask any questions, discuss any concerns, or just pick our brains about your smile’s health at this time.
Are You Due for a Dental Checkup?
Call Eastport Dental in Mesa today to schedule your six-month checkup and cleaning.