On your first visit, the dentist will perform a comprehensive dental exam to assess the current condition of your teeth and their supporting dental structures. You will then be asked to return for regular check-up exams to help implement and maintain your individualized dental health plan. Regular check-up exams cover three primary areas:
- Professional Dental Cleanings
- Screenings for General Dental Health
- Periodic X-Rays & Regular Diagnostic Evaluations of X-Rays
Professional Dental Cleanings:
Professional dental cleanings, known as dental prophylaxis, are performed by registered dental hygienists. During the cleaning, the hygienist will remove tartar and plaque, and then polish the teeth to remove any remaining stains. The proper removal of both tartar and plaque is essential to dental health and requires the specialized tools and training that dental hygienists provide.
Tartar, professionally known as calculus, is hardened plaque that sets firmly to tooth surfaces both above and below the gum line. Left in place, it causes serious damage to dental health. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth. Almost invisible to the naked eye, this growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva produces toxins that inflame the gums, initiating the beginning stages of periodontal disease. With both of these forming on your teeth all the time, professional dental cleanings are an essential element of dental disease prevention.
Screenings for General Dental Health:
Following your dental cleaning, the hygienist and the dentist will go through a series of general diagnostic screenings for a variety of common dental problems:
- Tooth Decay: All tooth surfaces are checked for weaknesses and decay with special dental instruments.
- Oral Cancer Screening: The face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, and gums will be checked for any signs of oral cancer.
- Gum Disease Evaluation: The gums and bones around the teeth will be checked for any signs of periodontal disease.
- Examination of Existing Restorations: Any fillings, crowns, or other existing restorations will be checked for problems or concerns, ensuring that they remain fully functional.
Periodic X-Rays & Regular Diagnostic Evaluations of X-Rays
Taking dental x-rays or radiographs is essential for diagnosing dental disease and concerns. These radiographs show teeth, bones and soft tissue to help dentists determine if there are caries or hidden dental problems such as bone loss that cannot be seen when looking into a mouth. Taking dental x-rays can also help catch dental disease early to prevent pain and expensive dental treatment.