Dental Exam & X-rays
A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by the dentist at your initial dental visit. At this appointment the dentist and hygienist will gather information that will be used to diagnose the state of your oral health. Areas of diagnostic gathering include: X-rays – Evaluate for decay, tumors, cysts and bone loss detections in and around your teeth; x-rays are the best way to determine if decay exists in the space between your teeth that cannot be seen by the dentist looking in your mouth Oral cancer screening – Evaluate the lower face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, other oral tissues and gums for any signs of oral cancer Gum disease evaluation – Evaluate the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease Examination of tooth decay – Visually explore and exam all the teeth, as well as any existing restorations, for decay Periodic dental exams follow the initial comprehensive dental exam where diagnostic information previously collected is reviewed and updated based on any new findings.
Professional dental cleanings are usually performed by hygienists. Dentists can perform them as well. Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam with x-rays and the following:
Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of bacteria, being nourished by food debris and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins that inflame the gums. That inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and has become calcified and firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and requires special dental instruments for removal.
Teeth polishing: Polishing removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during brushing and scaling.
Healthy gums and teeth require good home care as well as regular dental cleanings. Routine dental cleanings, completed once or twice a year, help eliminate plaque and calculus build up from difficult to reach places that are missed with everyday brushing and flossing. Dental staff may choose to use a vibrating instrument, called an ultrasonic scaler, to better clean and flush bacteria away from the teeth and gums. Regular dental cleanings, x-rays and exams allow us to detect problems early which results in less costly and more conservative treatment.
Brushing and flossing are the best ways to protect your teeth from cavities, of course, but it can be difficult to clean the nooks and crannies of your teeth. This is especially true of your molars, which are those back teeth you use to chew. Left in place, leftover food in your mouth can start a chain reaction that can weaken your teeth’s enamel covering, leaving you at risk for developing tooth decay. Dentists often recommend dental sealants to protect the vulnerable surfaces of your teeth.
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that dentists paint onto the surface of teeth. Sealants are a protective shield that blocks out the germs and food that can lead to cavities.
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