Dental exams & cleanings
What are Dental Exams & Cleanings?
Keeping your teeth healthy and clean requires more than diligent brushing and flossing at home. In many cases, plaque will build upon different areas of the teeth, hardening into a chalky white substance known as tartar. The only safe way to remove tartar buildup is with a professional cleaning performed by a registered hygienist. Exams are necessary as well, since they give us a view of your dental and oral health to prevent issues from getting worse.
We start by scraping off the buildup of plaque and tartar that collects above and below the gum line before flossing between and around every tooth to remove any plaque or food particles that are clinging on. Then we give your teeth a smooth and shiny finish using a tooth polisher with a spinning head and slightly abrasive paste. The polishing will get rid of any residue that was previously missed and will make your teeth smoother so that plaque will not collect as easily on them between visits to the dentist.
A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by your dentist at your initial dental visit. At regular check-up exams, your dentist and hygienist will 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.
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 with special dental instruments.
Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
Professional dental cleaning
Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually 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 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.
We use a digital radiograph machine to take any needed x-rays. Not only is this option more environmentally friendly, but also digital x-rays can be much safer than the more traditional ones. Digital radiographs have been shown to reduce a patient’s radiation exposure by up to 90% and no dangerous chemicals are used to develop the x-rays.
We recommend coming into our office once every six months to keep up with your dental health. If you have children, try to get them in for their first appointment as soon as possible. If it's been a long time since your last cleaning, it's never too late to start loving your smile. We offer care in a judgement-free and relaxed manner.