A solid preventive health plan should include regular dental exams, and professional cleanings twice a year. During your routine appointment, your dentist will perform a comprehensive dental evaluation to check your mouth for potential problems, such as signs of gum disease or tooth decay.
New patients receive a comprehensive examination which includes a screening for oral cancer, gum and bone disease, blood pressure, and systemic disorders. A routine oral exam is performed on established patients to determine any changes in dental and health status since the previous visit.
Your gum tissue is measured with a fine instrument ruler to calibrate in millimeters pocket depth between the tooth and the connective gum tissue around the tooth. Pocket depths more than 4 millimeters could indicate disease and infection. The deeper the pocket, the greater the extent plaque bacteria collects and infection in gum disease develop.
X-rays are taken as needed.
Tooth scaling and root planing occur as needed.
Routine cleanings also include a professional polishing (Prophy) that removes only the soft sticky plaque that is above the gum line.
Step 1 - Place bristles along the gum line at a 45 degree angle. Gently brush using a circular motion along the outer and inner tooth surfaces.
Step 2 - Brush each tooth individually. Tilt brush vertically behind the front teeth. Using the front half of the brush, use the same circular motion.
Step 3 - Place the brush against the biting surface of the teeth and use a gentle back-and-forth motion. Brush the tongue to remove odor-producing bacteria.
Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind some of it around your middle finger (3 turns); this finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Shorten the length between the two fingers to 6 inches and wind some floss (1 turn) around the opposite middle finger. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth as you gently rub the side of the tooth with an up and down motion. Before retrieving it, reverse the C-shape to clean the adjacent tooth surface as well.
As you finish cleaning each tooth, wind the dirty floss once around the first middle finger and slide more new length of floss to proceed to the next teeth.
Plaque is essentially the start of gum disease problems. Plaque is a build-up from bacteria in the mouth and particles from the foods you eat every day.
Once sugars are introduced to plaque, it turns into a tooth eating acid that sits just above the gum line. If regular oral care isn't standard, the acid will start eating at the teeth producing cavities and the plaque can cause gum disease.
Plaque that is allowed to sit for a prolonged period of time can cause cavities, gingivitis, and other problems in your mouth. If it's left longer than that, serious dental procedures may be required to restore your decaying smile.
Fluoride, a substance that's found naturally in water, plays an important role in healthy tooth development and cavity prevention.
Fluoride combats tooth decay in two ways:
1 - It strengthens tooth enamel, a hard and shiny substance that protects the teeth, so that it can better resist the acid formed by plaque.
2 - Fluoride allows teeth damaged by acid to repair, or re-mineralize, themselves.
Fluoride cannot repair cavities, but it can reverse low levels of tooth decay and thus prevent new cavities from forming.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that these fluoride supplements be given daily to children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years. The dosage will change as your child grows. Only children living in non-fluoridated areas or children who drink only non-fluoridated bottled water should receive supplements.
Most children get the right amount of fluoride through a combination of fluoridated toothpaste and fluoridated water or supplements. Too much fluoride before 8 years of age can cause enamel fluorosis, a discoloration or mottling of the permanent teeth. This condition is unsightly but harmless and often can be treated with cosmetic procedures.
Tartar is plaque that has had time to harden and is that white (sometimes yellow) substance found at the base of the tooth just above the gumline. Tartar is usually not removed with standard brushing and flossing and usually requires coming in to see us for proper and thorough removal.
Tooth scaling is a service that involves using a tool that is specifically designed to break-apart and remove tartar. We gently run the tooth scaling tool along the front and back surfaces of teeth that have any signs of tartar which effectively cleans the gumline and smooths the tooth enamel. Every time you come in for a dental checkup, tooth scaling is performed to help prevent future dental problems such as cavities and gum disease.
Each person's oral health is unique and the stage and current condition of the teeth and gums will dictate how involved a deep cleaning is as well as how long it takes to heal. Usually a deep cleaning is done one-half of the mouth at a time and healing takes about a day or two.
During a deep cleaning we will numb the areas of your gums where we are working, which will keep you from feeling any discomfort during the procedure. Using a special tool, we will remove any tartar build up that is found on tooth roots below the gumline and we ensure the tooth root gets a smooth finish to allow the gum tissues to start re-attaching itself. Our office uses a special ultrasonic tool that will ensure the quickest and most comfortable deep cleaning as possible and is something some other dental offices do not offer. After your root planing procedure, you may be recommended to take a medication to help control soreness from the procedure, keep away infections and to promote healing.
Sealants are one of the easiest preventive dental procedures that can be done. Sealing your teeth can be done in a single dental visit and is entirely painless!
We will first thoroughly clean and dry teeth that are going to be sealed. Generally, gauze and/or cotton will be placed around the tooth to prevent moisture collecting on the tooth. A clean and dry tooth is essential for the sealant material to properly adhere.
Next, a mild acid is applied to the chewing surface of the tooth. This will roughen the surface layer of the tooth's enamel and will provide an optimal surface for the sealant material to bond to.
The tooth will be rinsed with water and dried a final time before the sealant is placed.
Dental sealant material is a plastic-like material that is brushed onto the tooth's chewing services. This liquid-like material will sink into the nooks and crannies within the chewing surface and start bonding directly to the enamel layer of the tooth. We will use a special blue curing light that hardens the sealant.
That's it! Your tooth is now sealed off from harmful plaque and bacteria.