You’ve probably heard time and time again that regular dental exams and cleanings are vitally important to your oral health. Most individuals agree that dental exams and cleanings are simple and painless, despite the fact that someone is poking around in their mouth and there are strange noises throughout the process. It can certainly help to understand exactly what is occurring, and why.
Understanding the Exam and Cleaning Process
Every time you visit your dentist for a routine cleaning (which should be at least every six months), they will begin by examining your mouth. They will use a small mirror to check all angles of your teeth and gums, looking for signs of gingivitis, cavities or other oral health issues. In some cases, these issues will need to be resolved prior to your teeth cleaning, but in other cases your teeth cleaning may be completed first. One important thing to note is that your dentist may be able to detect issues long before you do, and by catching them early he may be able to help you resolve them without much difficulty.
Once your mouth has been examined and it’s time to proceed with the cleaning, your dentist will address any plaque and tartar buildup in your mouth. This is accomplished with the use of a dental tool called a scaler, which is used to scrape in between your teeth and around your gumline. Obviously, this process takes as long as is needed to remove all plaque and tartar. If your dentist spends a considerable amount of time removing plaque and tartar, he will advise you about the things you can do at home to reduce this buildup from occurring, including brushing and flossing every day with the right tools and techniques.
Following plaque and tartar removal, your dentist will thoroughly clean your teeth with a gritty toothpaste. The slightly abrasive nature of the toothpaste, along with the power of the dentist’s electric toothbrush, helps to remove any and all bacteria, food particles, plaque or tartar that remains on your teeth. It is important to note that while abrasive toothpaste can have its benefits during these cleanings, it should only be used by your dentist at your twice yearly cleanings so it doesn’t wear down your tooth enamel.
Once your teeth have been thoroughly brushed, they will be thoroughly flossed. Even if you floss religiously at home, this part of the procedure can have immense benefits. First of all, your dentist may floss more deeply and thoroughly than you do–despite your very best intentions. Second of all, your dentist may notice potential trouble spots while flossing, especially if your gums bleed during the flossing process. Third of all, it’s simply the final step in fully cleaning your teeth, and may help to remove any plaque or toothpaste that was left behind in the prior steps.
Finally, your dentist will direct you to rinse your mouth so as to remove any remaining debris. They may use water, a rinse that contains fluoride, or some combination of the two. The clear goal here is to ensure that your oral cavity is truly as clean as it can possibly be.
In addition to the basic exam and cleaning steps listed above, your dentist may recommend a fluoride treatment. This treatment acts like a protective shield, guarding your teeth against the acids that would seek to destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities. This treatment is usually administered by placing a fluoride gel or paste in a mouthpiece, and then placing the mouthpiece over your teeth for about one minute.
Once a year, or more often if it’s determined to be necessary based on your oral health condition, your dentist will need to take x-rays of your teeth and mouth. This helps them to see what is occurring beneath the surface, which can be important for detecting problems before they become extensive.
For more information about dental exams and cleanings or to schedule your appointment, contact Today’s Dental now!