Check Ups & Cleanings
How would you rate your oral health? Are you doing everything you can to keep your teeth healthy and strong? Brushing and flossing every day are critical to the health and wellness of your teeth and gums, but preventative maintenance shouldn’t stop there. Regular trips to your dentist for checkups and cleaning should be occurring a minimum of once annually – or more if your dentist determines that you require it.
We hear you; you don’t have any immediate concerns about your teeth, and you aren’t in any pain. While that’s fantastic, your dentist wants you to know that waiting until you do have a reason to see your dentist takes you out of the realm of preventative dentistry and puts you at risk of problems progressing to the point that they’re giving you symptoms – and that’s not what we want for your teeth. Understanding what preventative maintenance involves can go a long way in getting your buy-in, so here’s what you need to know about checkups and cleanings so that you can book your next appointment soon and get your teeth in for maintenance.
What Happens at a Checkup?
A checkup is the first portion of your maintenance appointment at the dentist. Here, your dentist will begin by updating their knowledge of your medical history. Any changes in medications, significant developments or injuries to your mouth should also be covered. This provides your dentist with the background required to be able to accurately assess the state of your oral hygiene and allows them to ensure that any medications used during the course of a procedure with them will not interact with your daily medications. For example, blood thinning medications are critical to tell your dentist about, since they increase the likelihood of bleeding and decrease your body’s ability to stop the bleeding effectively by clotting.
Once your dentist has updated your chart, you may discuss any concerns you may have about your teeth. It’s a good idea to keep a list of items to discuss to ensure that you use this time as effectively as possible. Tooth pain, sensitivity, changes in tooth appearance, bad breath, headaches and anything else tooth-related can be discussed. With your concerns in mind, your dentist will begin to visually assess your mouth, paying added attention to the areas of concern if there are any. Each tooth will be assessed for signs of decay or other concerns and will be noted for reference. If you have obvious signs of tooth decay or other concerns such as signs of skin changes, your dentist will discuss this with you. Changes in skin will be investigated further with the use of special lights that allow the inner layers of your soft tissues to be visible.
The quality of your bite will be assessed, including the ease with which your temporomandibular joint (the joint responsible for opening and closing your jaw) is operating. Your dentist will look at the relationship between your teeth and your gums to identify signs of recession that could be contributing to tooth sensitivity and he or she will also check to ensure that any restorations (fillings, crowns etc.) are still in good working order.
If it’s been a year or more since your last digital X-ray, your dentist will take new pictures of your oral cavity to enable a view of what’s going on beneath the surface of your teeth and soft tissues. X-rays are an important part of oral health maintenance, since they are able to identify hidden concerns like cavities between the teeth or cysts around the roots of teeth. Since X-rays are now primarily digital, the exposure that your body will have to radiation is greatly decreased, so you can say yes without concerns for your health.
Once your dentist has had a look at the surface and the inner structures of your oral cavity, any findings will be discussed including any recommended procedures. Once your questions have been answered, it’s on to professional cleaning with a dental hygienist.
Cleaning Your Teeth
Your dental hygienist is a professional who is trained to effectively clean teeth without harming any of their structures. Tooth cleaning is required for removing tartar, which is so calcified that no amount of brushing or flossing will cause it to budge – an argument for the daily brushing and flossing that prevents its development! Your hygienist will begin by scaling your teeth, which effectively removes that hardened tartar. Following scaling, an electric tool will be used to polish your tooth surfaces smooth with a bit of mildly abrasive polish. After flossing, you’re all done! Don’t forget to book your next appointment before leaving the clinic – we look forward to seeing you again!
If you have questions about these or other services offered by our general dentists, contact our clinic today.