You have been told since you were a child about the importance of dental checkups and cleanings. You visit the dentist every six months, like you are supposed to, and sit back in the chair while the dentist and hygienist do their thing.
But what do they actually do during a checkup? Do they look for anything in particular? And why do you need a professional cleaning, when you practice regular brushing and flossing at home?
Dr. Maxwell Johnson and the staff at Oracle Family Dental follow many steps during a dental checkup and cleaning to make sure that your teeth and gums stay healthy and that you remain at the peak of good oral health.
To learn more about what goes on during a dental checkup, call our Oro Valley, AZ, dental office today at (520) 219-7004 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson.
What to Expect During Your Dental Checkup
A dental checkup allows Dr. Johnson to stay up to date with your dental health and hygiene. Most patients attend a dental checkup every six months, however some patients, including pregnant women and those with gum disease, may need to attend checkups more often. Dr. Johnson will recommend a schedule for patients who need to visit more frequently.
Typically, your checkup will consist of x-rays, a cursory examination by the hygienist, a more detailed exam with the doctor, and your professional cleaning.
Dr. Johnson uses x-rays to help discover things like tooth decay hidden between teeth or below the gums, signs of periodontal disease, and misalignment issues. We use digital x-rays in our office, exposing our patients to about 80 percent less radiation than traditional x-rays require.
Digital x-rays provide the doctor with highly detailed pictures of the entire mouth, allowing him to see the roots of your teeth and the bone around them. They also help him monitor the development of younger patients’ teeth as they come in.
You will receive an examination from both Dr. Johnson and our experienced dental hygienist, Rosa. She will perform the initial examination of your teeth and gums. The hygienist will document any changes in your oral health or hygiene since your last visit, and take note of any possible problems she sees.
Dr. Johnson will then perform his examination, looking for signs of cavities, screening for oral cancer, and measuring any pockets between your teeth and gums.
During this examination, the dentist may use several tools, such as a probe for measuring the gum pockets, an exploring tool, and a dental mirror. If you have anxiety issues about any of these tools or procedures, let the doctor or hygienist know, and we will explain your sedation options.
Professional Dental Cleaning
A dental cleaning, or prophylaxis, involves the removal of plaque, tartar, and stains from the teeth. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria and sugars, causes cavities and gum disease. If not removed daily through brushing and flossing, plaque can harden into tartar, or calculus. Even patients who brush and floss regularly experience some buildup of plaque and tartar around their gums and in between their teeth.
The hygienist will begin the cleaning by using a hooked instrument, called a scaler to gently remove plaque and tartar deposits from the surface of your teeth and around your gum line. The hygienist will then polish your teeth with an abrasive paste.
This will remove minor stains from your teeth, and provide a smooth surface on your teeth, making it difficult for bacteria to gather there. Dr. Johnson typically recommends a fluoride treatment after your cleaning, to help strengthen the enamel of your teeth and guard them against attacks from decay.
Scaling and Root Planing
If the hygienist discovers pockets between your teeth and gums during your cleaning, which may be a sign of periodontal disease, we will perform a deeper cleaning to remove plaque from under the gum line and on the roots of the teeth.
Scaling and root planing work together as a non-surgical treatment for gum disease. The treatment allows for the healthy regeneration of gum tissue through careful cleaning and smoothing of the tooth roots.
The hygienist will use the scaler to scrape tartar from the tooth roots above and below the gum line. Then she will smooth out the rough spots on your tooth roots where germs tend to gather, helping to eliminate harmful bacteria. This procedure takes a little longer, and depending on the number of pockets you have, and their depth, it may necessitate a separate appointment.
Contact Us for More Information
The best way to learn more about checkups and professional cleanings is to schedule yours today. Call our Oro Valley, AZ, dental office at (520) 219-7004 to schedule your appointment.