Maintaining good oral health requires more than just brushing and flossing at home. Regular dental checkups and professional cleanings are crucial and, for most people, should be done at least twice a year. These checkups give your dentist the opportunity to detect any hidden problems that you may not be aware of and create a treatment plan before they worsen or cause discomfort and infection. Professional cleanings are also essential to remove tartar buildup and clean areas of the mouth that are hard to reach with a toothbrush and floss. By keeping up with regular dental visits, you can prevent more serious oral health issues from developing and maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.
Regular dental exams and cleanings can provide numerous benefits for your oral health, including the prevention of tooth decay, gum disease, wear or fractures, oral cancer, sleep apnea, jaw and sinus disorders, and bad breath. By catching potential issues early, it is possible to avoid costly and time-consuming dental procedures and life-threatening diseases. Professional cleanings can also help reduce staining and build-up caused by food and drinks, as well as minerals from your saliva. These efforts help you make the most of your smile. By having regular dental visits, you can shorten the time spent in the dentist’s chair and make sure that you have the best chance of having a healthy, beautiful smile that will last a lifetime.
When you have a dental exam, your dentist will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your teeth and gums to identify any signs of tooth decay, gum disease, or other potential health issues. In addition, your tongue and other related oral tissues will be checked for signs of oral cancer and infection, and your jaw joints will be screened for pathology and signs of damage. Some sinus problems and sleep disorders also have a negative impact on your teeth, gums, and general health, and discussions of your health history and any prescription medications that you take are an important part of a thorough dental exam. In most cases, your dentist will recommend taking X-rays to get a closer look in between your teeth as well as the underlying bone that supports the health of your teeth and gums. By using X-rays, your dentist can detect dental diseases that may not be visible to the naked eye–this contributes to a more complete understanding of your oral health and more comfortable early treatment options.
At the start of your professional cleaning, your dental hygienist will check your gums for signs of periodontal disease, infection, and bone loss, to help your dentist diagnose and personalize a treatment plan that will help prevent continued progressive damage to your gums. They will then use various tools to carefully remove any tartar buildup from your teeth, followed by flossing, polishing, and if needed, fluoride application.
Typically, cleanings are comfortable, but if you feel anxious, you can discuss sedation options with your hygienist. If tooth decay or gum disease is present, your dentist and hygienist will work together to discuss ways to improve your oral hygiene practices, and in severe cases, may recommend antibiotics or other dental treatment. If your teeth and gums are healthy, your dentist will advise you to continue your regular brushing and flossing routine as well as offer tips and tools to clean hard-to-reach areas. This effort helps to maintain your teeth and gums for a lifetime of smiles.