Brushing and flossing at home to keep up your oral health is great, but it’s also important to visit the dentist for checkups and professional cleanings at least twice a year. These checkups allow your dentist to identify any problems in your mouth that you cannot see just by looking in the mirror, giving your dentist the opportunity to get you started on a treatment plan before any problems progress. It also allows us clean all the hard to reach areas your toothbrush and floss cannot get to.
By routinely seeing your dentist for exams and cleanings, you can:
- Prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath
- Save money by avoiding costly dental procedures
- Keep your teeth white by reducing staining from food and drinks
- Shorten the time spent in your dentist’s office
- Have a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime
During your dental exam, your dentist will thoroughly examine each tooth and your entire gum line for any signs of decay, disease, or other health problems. Your dentist may also suggest taking X-rays to see what’s going on beneath the surface of your teeth and gums. The images provided by the X-rays help your dentist discover dental issues not visible to the naked eye.
Your dental hygienist will begin your professional cleaning by exploring the surface of your teeth to determine if you have any cavities and to examine the quality of existing fillings. The dental hygienist will then perform a periodontal exam to make sure your gums adhere tightly to your teeth, and that no periodontal disease or bone loss may be occurring. Next, your hygienist will carefully clean your teeth with a variety of tools to remove any hard mineral buildup (tartar) from your teeth. Then your hygienist will floss your teeth, use a polishing compound, and apply fluoride.
Cleanings usually aren’t painful, but if you have any anxiety about your dental exam, be sure to let your hygienist know, as sedation may be an option to ensure your comfort. If your dentist or hygienist finds tooth decay or gum disease, they will talk to you about increasing your brushing or flossing habits. In severe cases, they may recommend antibiotics or other dental treatments. If your teeth and gums appear to be healthy, your dentist will probably recommend that you continue your brushing and flossing routine as usual.