American Dental Association (ADA) advises Dental check-ups and prophylaxis cleanings every six months. If patient is diabetic, or with any heart conditions or pregnant patient may need more than 2 prophylaxis in a year.
Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease or any swelling around gums.
Tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments. Existing restorations exam: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
Dental Prophylaxis (Cleanings)
Patients are encouraged to get a dental cleaning & check up once every six months. Tobacco, alcohol consumption, diabetes, pregnancy, and poor oral hygiene are just a few factors that the dentist will take into consideration when deciding how often you need your dental cleaning & check ups.
Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually carried out by a Registered Dental Hygienist and consists of the following:
Scaling: - A procedure often has done by hand to remove plaque and tartar (calculus) from all tooth surfaces.
Root planning: - Consists of cleaning periodontal gum pockets, an indicator of gum disease, to prevent further gum problems. It is often called a gum treatment or deep cleaning.
Polishing: - A method used to remove any remaining stains and place the finishing touch on your teeth to give you a bright and beautiful smile.
Getting regular check-ups will help keep your gums and teeth healthy as well as detect early signs of disease such as gum disease, oral cancer and cavities. The best way to maintain good oral health is to visit your dentist on a regular basis.
Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) to capture and store the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged helping the dentist and dental hygienist detect problems easier.
Digital X-rays are also utilized in order to educate the patient. Digital x-rays reduce radiation 90-95% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.
Dental X-Rays may expose:
- Abscesses or cysts.
- Bone loss.
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
- Decay between the teeth.
- Poor tooth and root positions.
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
Are dental x-rays safe?
Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. Our dentists take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation when taking dental x-rays. These precautions include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using modern, fast film that cuts down the exposure time of each x-ray.
How often should dental x-rays be taken?
The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease. As per ADA and standard of care check up x-rays are taken once a year. A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.
Fluoride is a mineral that is one of the most effective agents available to help prevent tooth decay. It is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations.
Fluoride works in two ways:
Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the tooth more resistant to decay. Topical fluorides are found in dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during their dental check-ups
Systemic fluoride strengthens the teeth that have erupted as well as those that are developing under the gums. We gain systemic fluoride from most foods and our community water supply. It is also available in the form of a supplemental drop or gel, which can be prescribed by your dentist or physician. If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are developing, a condition called fluorosis (white spots on the teeth) may result.
Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay. Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:
- Deep pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth.
- Exposed and sensitive root surfaces.
- Fair to poor oral hygiene habits.
- Frequent sugar and carbohydrate intake.
- Inadequate exposure to fluorides.
- Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments or medications.
- Recent history of dental decay.
Caution: Fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.
Your personal home care plays an important role in achieving that goal. Your personal home care starts by eating balanced meals, reducing the number of snacks you eat, and correctly using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease. A beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our and your ultimate goal when treating patients.
Tooth Decay Preventative care: Tooth decay is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, and its treatment often requires complex dental procedures. Tooth decay occurs when the acids found in plaque erode the natural enamel found on the teeth. This phenomenon can easily be prevented by using proper home hygiene methods.
Periodontal disease care: Periodontal disease is a serious, progressive condition which can cause tooth loss, gum recession and jawbone recession. Periodontal disease is caused by the toxins found in plaque, and can lead to serious health problems in other parts of the body.
Removing plaque and calculus (tartar) from the surface of the tooth using a toothbrush, and from the interdental areas using dental floss, is an excellent way to stave off periodontal problems.
Halitosis Care: Bad breath or halitosis is usually caused by old food particles on or between the teeth. These food particles can be removed with regular brushing and flossing; leaving the mouth healthier, and breath smelling fresher.
Staining preventative care: Staining or the yellowing of teeth can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as smoking, coffee and tea. The more regularly these staining agents are removed from the teeth using brushing and flossing techniques, the less likely it is that the stains will become permanent.
Brushing and Flossing
Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste. Place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums and gently brush using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums. Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth. Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside of the front teeth. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and your breath.
Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.
Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gum line. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.
Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion. Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gum line. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.
It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist. Use other dental aids as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist: Interdental brushes, rubber tip stimulators, tongue cleaners, irrigation devices, fluoride, medicated rinses, etc., can all play a role in good dental home care.
Regular dental check-ups are essential to maintain excellent oral hygiene and diagnose potential problems, but they are not a “fix-all” solution. Thorough oral homecare routines should be practiced on a daily basis to avoid future dental problems. There are numerous types of oral hygiene aids on the supermarket shelves, and it can be difficult to determine which will provide the best benefit to your teeth.
Most common oral hygiene aids for homecare:
There are many types of toothbrushes available today. Electric toothbrushes are generally recommended by dentists because electric brushes are much more effective than manual brushes. The vibrating or rotary motion helps to easily dislodge plaque and remove food particles from around the gums and teeth. The same results can be obtained using a manual brush, but much more effort is required to do so.
Manual toothbrushes should be replaced every three months because worn bristles become ineffective over time. Soft bristle toothbrushes are far less damaging to gum tissue than medium and hard bristle. In addition, an appropriate sized ADA approved toothbrush should be chosen to allow proper cleaning. Teeth should ideally be brushed after each meal, or minimally twice each day.
Dental floss is the most common interdental and sub gingival (below the gum) cleaner and comes in a variety of types and flavors. The floss itself is made from either thin nylon filaments or polyethylene ribbons, and is used to remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth. Great care should be taken when flossing so as to avoid soft tissue damage and bleeding due to vigorous flossing. Flossing should normally be done twice daily after brushing.
Many hygienist & periodontists recommend interdental brushes in addition to dental floss. These tiny brushes are gentle on the gums and very effective in cleaning the contours of teeth in between the gums. Interdental brushes come in various shapes and sizes.
There are two basic types of mouth rinse available: cosmetic rinses and therapeutic rinses. Cosmetic rinses are sold over the counter and temporarily suppress bad breath, however most dentists are skeptical about the benefits of cosmetic rinses because several studies have shown that their effectiveness against plaque is minimal while. Therapeutic rinses on the other hand ,which may or may not require a prescription are regulated by the FDA and contain active ingredients that can help reduce bad breath, plaque, and cavities. Mouth rinses should generally be used after brushing.
Oral irrigators have been created to clean debris from below the gum line. Water is continuously sprayed from tiny jets into the gum pockets to help remove harmful bacteria and food particles. Overall, oral irrigators have proven effective in lowering the risk of gum disease and should not be used instead of brushing and flossing. Professional cleanings are still recommended at least twice annually to remove deeper debris.
Rubber Tip Stimulators
The rubber tip stimulator is an excellent tool for removing plaque from around the gum line and also for stimulating blood flow to the gums. The rubber tip stimulator should be traced gently along the outer and inner gum line at least once each day. Any plaque on the tip can be rinsed off with tap water. It is important to replace the tip as soon as it starts to appear worn, and to store the stimulator in a cool, dry place.
Tongue cleaners are special devices which have been designed to remove the buildup of bacteria, fungi and food debris from the tongue surface. The fungi and bacteria that colonize on the tongue have been related to halitosis (bad breath) and many systemic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and stroke. Tongue cleaners can be made from metal, wood or plastic and shaped in accordance with the contours of the tongue. Tongue cleaning should be done prior to brushing to prevent the ingestion of fungi and bacteria.
A sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of molars, premolars and any deep grooves (called pits and fissures) of teeth. More than 75% of dental decay begins in these deep grooves. Teeth with these conditions are hard to clean and are very susceptible to decay. A sealant protects the tooth by sealing deep grooves, creating a smooth, easy to clean surface.
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for many years, but need to be checked for wear and chipping at regular dental visits.
Why we need sealants:
Children and teenagers: As soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear or any time throughout the cavity prone years of 6-16.
Adults: Tooth surfaces without decay that has deep grooves or depressions.
Baby teeth: It is occasionally done if teeth have deep grooves or depressions and child is cavity prone.
What do sealants involve?
Sealants are easily applied by your dentist or dental hygienist and the process takes only a few minutes per a tooth. The process entails thoroughly cleaning the tooth and surrounding it with cotton to keep the area dry. A special solution is then applied to the enamel surface to help the sealant bond to the teeth, which are then rinsed and dried. Sealant material is then carefully painted onto the enamel surface to cover the deep grooves or depressions.
Depending on the type of sealant used, the material will either harden automatically or with a special curing light.
Proper home care and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new sealants