Regular Dental Cleanings
Since you were a child, you have heard about the importance of attending regular dental checkups and cleanings.
Your parents probably made sure you visited the dentist every six months, in an effort to ensure you maintained excellent oral hygiene.
Now that you have become an adult, you may wonder if the importance of attending checkups and cleanings still pertains to you. After all, you brush and floss twice a day like you were taught, so your teeth should be fine, right?
Dr. Scott Lee has met many patients with this attitude over the years; usually when they come in with a toothache or some other dental emergency. Maintaining a regular schedule of dental checkups allows the doctor to stay up to date with your dental health and catch any possible dental issues before they become emergencies.
To learn more about the importance of regular dental checkups and cleanings, call our Mesa, AZ, dental office today at (480) 485-7747 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Lee.
What to Expect During Your Dental Checkup
Most patients attend a dental checkup every six months, however some patients may need to attend checkups more often. These include patients at high risk for developing dental diseases, including pregnant women, smokers, patients with diabetes or gum disease.
Those with weak immune systems, may need to attend a checkup every three to four months. If you fall into one of these categories, Dr. Lee will recommend an ideal number of visits for you.
A typical dental checkup with Dr. Lee will usually include having x-rays taken of your teeth and examinations performed by our hygienist and the doctor.
Dr. Lee typically does not require x-rays at every appointment, unless a potential problem arises. He usually recommends x-rays at every other appointment. The doctor uses your x-rays to help discover things like hidden tooth decay, signs of gum disease, and misalignment. We use digital x-rays in our office, which expose our patients to much less radiation than traditional x-rays.
Digital x-rays help the doctor by providing highly detailed pictures of your whole mouth. The even allow him to see the roots of your teeth and the bone surrounding them. Dr. Lee also uses x-rays monitor the development of our younger patients’ teeth as they begin to erupt.
You will have your mouth examined by both Dr. Lee and one of our experienced dental hygienists. The hygienist will perform the initial examination of your teeth and gums and take note of any changes since your last visit or any possible problems she sees.
Dr. Lee will then perform his examination, looking for signs of cavities, screening for oral cancer, and measuring any pockets between your teeth and gums for signs of gum disease.
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 know and he will explain your sedation options.
What Happens During a Professional Dental Cleaning?
Your hygienist will perform your cleaning as part of your checkup. 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 those who brush and floss regularly will experience some buildup of plaque and tartar around the gums and in between teeth, where a toothbrush cannot reach.
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. Lee usually 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 Dr. Lee finds pockets between your teeth and gums during his examination, a sign of periodontal disease, you may need 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.
During the scaling procedure, the hygienist will use the scaler to scrape tartar from the tooth roots above and below the gum line. Root planing involves smoothing out the rough spots on your tooth roots where germs tend to gather, helping to eliminate harmful bacteria. These procedures take a little longer, and may require a separate appointment.