When you see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleaning appointments you are taking time to invest in your immediate and long-term health. In the short-term you get your concerns addressed and keep your teeth looking healthy and clean – in the long-term you are taking a proactive approach to your own wellness.
Human teeth are not just objects in the mouth. Rather, your teeth are alive and functioning within your body in a way that allows them to impact other systems. Since teeth draw blood supply, disease has the potential to move into the blood system. Chronic periodontitis (gum disease) has been shown to be more common in diabetic patients and has even been shown to have an effect on the heart. Infected wisdom teeth can impact the region of the sinus cavity since roots are so long and robust.
Your regular checkups and cleanings are intended to proactively identify any change in pattern or presentation of the teeth and tissues in your mouth while offering tartar removal and polishing to keep them looking their best. If you have questions for your dentist, you’ll want to discuss at the outset of your visit. Similarly, if your dentist finds any concerns during your checkup, you can discuss a plan of action before you leave your appointment. We recommend booking your next visit with us before leaving the office. This ensures that your dental health is prioritized in advance and allows your dentist to regularly monitor any conditions of concern.
Before attending your checkup appointment, make note of any changes to your medical history including any new medications and dosages. This information is important for your dental team to document to ensure that the medications and procedures they perform are appropriate for your medical profile. If you have allergies to penicillin or other medications, it is important to have this documented to avoid any potential for oversights.
Once your history is updated, your dentist will lean you back in the dental chair and begin visually checking your mouth. Your dentist and his/her assistant will make notes of changes to your teeth as well as the soft tissues such as your cheeks, hard and soft palate, lips, tongue and floor of the mouth (area under your tongue). Your dentist is looking for signs of decay, inflammation, gum recession and any changes that can be seen since your last visit.
If you haven’t recently had X-rays taken of your teeth, your dentist will offer a digital X-ray which will provide the health information needed with much less radiation than a traditional X-ray. X-rays are important diagnostic tools for understanding and diagnosing conditions in the mouth that are not observable with the naked eye.
Your dentist will also check your bite, lymph nodes and the function and comfort of your temporomandibular joint (jaw joint). If there are signs of clenching and grinding, your dentist will discuss what avenues you might take to limit the impact of the grinding on joints and muscles. This could include massage, stress management techniques, a night guard and/or Botox® therapy.
You might have a great oral health routine at home, but nothing feels quite like a professional dental cleaning. That’s because a professional cleaning can accomplish what your regular toothbrush cannot: the removal of hardened tartar. Tartar develops when plaque deposits on the teeth become calcified with the minerals in our saliva and hardens around the teeth. This form of plaque is too hard to be swept away with a brush and chipping it away is dangerous to the enamel. Your dental hygienist will begin your cleaning session by scaling the teeth. Scaling removes the tartar on the teeth while protecting the enamel from damage. Once this is removed, the teeth are gently polished to smooth their surface and remove any surface stains caused by food and lifestyle.
Your dental cleaning will finish with flossing and a treatment of fluoride to keep your teeth resistant to the effects of acids in the mouth. Flossing will reveal whether you have a regular flossing habit at home, since gums that are not regularly cleansed are likely to bleed when flossed. This is the result of bacteria sitting between the teeth and breaking down, irritating and reddening the soft tissues around them. If you find flossing challenging, ask your hygienist for information about how to properly floss the teeth.
Are you interested in whitening your teeth but keep putting it off because appointments are inconvenient? Consider booking a whitening session as part of your checkup and cleaning and whiten your smile without upsetting your schedule. Whitening your teeth at the end of your cleaning will have your teeth looking brighter until your next appointment.
For questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist contact our clinic today.