It may seem like a lot of scraping and picking, but do you know what's really happening during your bi-annual teeth cleaning? Our dental experts are here to break it down for you, so you know exactly what your dental hygienist is doing during a cleaning and what your dentist is looking for during your check-up.
Why Dental Exams Are So Important
Routine dental exams are about more than scraping off plaque and getting your teeth polished. Getting your teeth professionally cleaned is a valuable opportunity to not just check in with our dentist and have an examination done, but it's also a chance to learn about your oral health and how you can change the future of your smile from your home care routine.
Twice a year cleanings make a big difference to the state of your mouth health. So, if it's been a little longer than you'd like to admit since you've had your teeth professionally cleaned and examined, don't let that keep you from scheduling your next appointment.
Early Cavity Detection
Detecting cavities and catching them early is a top priority during a routine visit. However, sometimes small cavities on the chewing surfaces of your teeth can be mistaken for stain and left to grow into cavities. Our experts will determine how deep a cavity has developed during your cleanings and exams. Proper diagnosis of dental decay allows us to provide the best treatment possible to our patients, so only minimal restorative dentistry work is necessary to repair damage and decay.
Oral Cancer Screening
Due to a recent increase in oral cancer cases, your dentist has likely begun to perform oral cancer screenings at your routine exams. This simple screening allows your dentist to catch problematic tissues as early as possible, so successful treatment is more likely. Your dentist will:
- Perform a visual exam using a light, mirror, and tongue depressor and will examine your face, neck, lips, inside the nose and oral cavity, looking for any asymmetries, swelling, bumps, or patches of color.
- Perform a physical exam, touching the areas of the head, cheeks, around the jaw, under the chin, and in the oral cavity to feel for any masses or unusual nodules that are not visible with just the eye.
Your dentist can tell a lot from a visual exam of your mouth, but it can't tell them everything. Thanks to dental x-rays, your dentist can accurately diagnose and treat dental problems early before they become a more serious issue. An x-ray provides your dentist a chance to see the whole picture, including the ability to see between and inside your teeth, and even the roots of your teeth and underneath your gum tissue.
Different types of x-rays you may hear your dentist say include:
- Bitewing - Showing the crown portions of your teeth and in-between teeth.
- Periapical - The bone height or root tips of the teeth.
- Panoramic - An image of the entire oral cavity on one large x-ray.
Monitor Existing Dental Restorations
If you already have fillings, veneers, crowns, or other previous dental work, your dentist will check these restorations to ensure they are in proper working condition. These types of repairs do not last forever, and scheduling regular exams allows for you to stay ahead of dental failure and schedule repairs on your own time rather than during a dental emergency.
Schedule Any Necessary Repairs
If your dentist does find any cavities or other dental work that should be completed during your cleaning or exam, you will be notified of the extent of the damage and set up a plan to repair the damaged teeth.
Talking To Your Dentist About Your Health
Asking your dentist a few questions at your next exam allows you to engage in your dental health, reduce dental anxiety and learn about how you can adequately care for your teeth. Be sure to ask:
- Am I missing any spots during brushing and flossing?
- Does it seem like I'm grinding my teeth?
- How often should I be scheduling exams?
- Am I at a heightened risk for gum disease?
- Are there any dental products you'd recommend for me?
Asking your dentist for personal recommendations will ensure you're properly taking care of your oral health at home. If you're ready to schedule a routine cleaning and exam, contact Elite Dental & Denture PC today.