For healthy teeth and gums, it is essential to support your daily cleaning regimen with a preventative maintenance program. At High Prairie Dental, we are passionate about oral health and we make preventative maintenance a breeze with our comprehensive checkups and professional cleaning services.
If you take good care of your teeth by brushing and flossing daily, and you have no immediate dental concerns, it can be tempting to put off your regular dental appointments. But did you know that preventative maintenance does more than just clean your teeth? While it’s true that cleaning is a natural part of your maintenance program, your dentist is looking at far more than just the cleanliness of your oral cavity. Regularly reviewing the condition of your teeth and bite allows corrections to be made early to protect teeth against conditions that may become urgent without intervention. Rather than seeing your dentist when concerns have progressed to the point of unmanageable discomfort, your dentist wants to see you regularly – once or twice per year per your practitioner’s recommendations.
Dental checkups occur prior to cleaning the teeth, and they begin with a visual assessment of your oral cavity. While you might think that you would see for yourself if there was an issue brewing, the truth is that even dentists avail themselves of special tools like mirrors and bright lights to ensure that they have a full view of each tooth (something hard to achieve in your bathroom at home!). Your dentist is looking for signs of cavities and decay on the outer teeth as well as any indications that the soft tissues of the mouth are irritated or diseased. Signs of soft tissue problems may include red or swollen gums, which can indicate the presence of gingivitis, as well as the alignment of the teeth, any lesions or sores that are not healing and any signs of trouble with the jaw joint known as the temporomandibular joint (or TMJ for short).
Once the visual portion of the exam is complete, your dentist will begin to investigate the health of the parts of the mouth that cannot be seen. For example, a special light may be used to allow your dentist to see the state of the layers of tissue beneath the surface. Any signs of cancer or other diseased tissue may reveal themselves and allow early intervention to occur. You will be offered a digital X-ray annually. These digital X-rays use digital technology to greatly reduce the amount of radiation that you are exposed to and provides insight into the health of the teeth beneath the gums as well as between the teeth.
Your X-ray may indicate that your teeth are perfectly healthy, and in that case – high fives all around! But in some cases, X-rays will confirm the presence of infection, decay between teeth and even cysts and bone degeneration which cannot be diagnosed visually. You might think that concerns in the mouth would make themselves known through discomfort, but the truth is that some conditions are asymptomatic (without symptoms), and for that we rely on digital imaging.
Following the oral checkup, we recommend a regular professional cleaning. One of our skilled dental hygienists will partner with you to educate you about any areas of concern with regard to cleaning the teeth effectively at home and will get your teeth looking their cleanest.
Cleaning begins with scaling, which is the process of removing calcified plaque from the surface of the teeth – something that can not safely be accomplished at home. Your hygienist is trained to remove tartar (calcified plaque) from the teeth while protecting the enamel from damage. Next, a tooth polishing paste will be applied to the teeth with a special tool, removing surface stains and smoothing the surface of the teeth. Your teeth will be flossed, and finally your application of fluoride will be applied to keep your teeth strong and resilient to the effects of plaque and acid attacks. Prior to leaving, your dental hygienist will reiterate any reminders they have about cleaning your hard-to-reach teeth at home and will advise you not to eat or drink for 30 minutes following the application of fluoride.
Dental checkups and cleanings are typically brief appointments which can be scheduled into your day or evening without sacrificing too much time away from your many responsibilities. Your teeth are an important part of your overall health and we urge our clients to make time to care for them. After all, wouldn’t you like to have your natural teeth for life? We’re here to partner with you toward this goal. If you have questions about these or other services offered by our general dentist, please contact our office today!