Regular Cleanings and Oral Exams
Every patient (even denture patients) needs to be seen at least once every six months, and some patients should visit us four times a year. Studies show that calculus (tartar) begins to accumulate on tooth surfaces between 90 and 120 days after professional cleaning. Many patients benefit from professional cleanings that are more frequent than every six months, especially those with periodontal disease.
A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by one of our dentists at your initial and regular dental visits which will include the following:
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. Our low-radiation digital 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.
- Examination for tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
- Examination of existing restorations: The doctor conducts a thorough examination of your existing dental work to check for leaks at the margins of fillings, problematic gaps between restorations and assesses the general integrity of crowns, bridge work and other previous dental restorations.
Professional Dental Cleaning
Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually performed by one of our Registered Dental Hygienists. Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:
- Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
- Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
- Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
X-Rays are essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. The computer era has brought us an exciting new technology called digital radiography. With this technology, we use computerized equipment and software to capture X-Ray images of your mouth and teeth. We do this by exposing a small sensor or plate that feeds the image into a computer.
Advantages Of Digital X-Rays
Digital X-Rays have the following advantages over traditional dental X-Rays:
- Faster:Taking x-rays is faster because the sensor is merely moved from tooth to tooth, and your X-Ray can be seen on a computer monitor just moments after exposure. There’s no waiting for chemical development, as with film packets.
- Safer:Digital X-Rays are safer for you, too. Because the unit is so sensitive, the amount of X-Ray radiation is up to 80% less than with conventional X-Rays.
- More Efficient Diagnosis:Digital x-ray technology enables more efficient diagnosis and treatment because it provides a large, easy-to-see image, and it allows us to make adjustments and see details in the x-ray images.
- Environmentally Friendly: The lack of chemicals also makes digital x-rays safer for the environment.
With digital radiography, we can offer you faster and safer diagnosis and dental treatment.
Digital Panoramic X-ray
Single photo x-ray
Sometimes we just need to see the bigger picture. That is when a digital panoramic x-ray is the right choice.
TA panoramic x-ray is a single photo that captures an overall view of your teeth, jaws, and surrounding areas.
There are no uncomfortable film packets to hold between your teeth. Just ease your chin onto the chin rest, and the camera does the rest. The camera revolves around your head to get a wider, fuller view that is not possible with traditional film x-rays. Your x-ray is done in a matter of seconds.
Advantages of digital x-rays
Digital x-rays have advantages over film x-rays. Because there is no film, there are no chemicals to process, and you see your image sooner. This computer image can be enhanced for a better diagnosis. Digital x-rays can be electronically sent to other dentists or insurance companies. Many machines emit up to 80% less radiation than traditional film x-rays.
We may use the digital panoramic x-ray in conjunction with traditional x-rays to get a detailed picture of your oral health.
A panoramic x-ray is a great tool for:
- planning orthodontic treatment.
- placing implants.
- extracting wisdom teeth.
- diagnosing impacted teeth.
- finding cysts.
- diagnosing problems with the jaw joints.
A digital, panoramic x-ray is one more way to keep your teeth in picture perfect health.
Fluoride prevents cavities in children and adults. It is especially important for children 6 months to 16 years old to get enough fluoride to protect their teeth.
When bacteria build up on teeth, they produce acids that dissolve the tooth’s enamel, eventually forming a cavity. Fluoride strengthens the enamel and protects against acid attack. In some cases, it can add minerals back to the enamel and reverse the damage from the acid attack.
Fluoridated water supplies
Many communities add low doses of fluoride to the local drinking water, which helps greatly in reducing tooth decay. If your children's water does not have fluoride, we can prescribe a fluoride pill or drops that deliver safe doses of fluoride to help strengthen teeth.
Fluoridated oral care products
Older children and adults should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a soft toothbrush. Older children can benefit from fluoride mouthwash.
We may recommend a more concentrated dose of fluoride that we apply here in the office. We will use a tray to apply either fluoride foam or gel, or we may use a small brush to apply a fluoride varnish.
Fluoride is a strong weapon in the fight against decay and can help your child be cavity-free for a lifetime.
Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks, and maintain your regular dental checkups.
A sealant is a clear or white protective coating that is placed on the biting surfaces of back teeth to help prevent tooth decay.
The benefits of sealants
Back teeth have deep grooves and pits that are very difficult for children to keep clean. Plaque, which is a sticky, colorless film of food and bacteria, collects in these grooves.
Every time you eat, the bacteria in plaque forms acid. Without a protective sealant, this acid attacks the enamel that protects your teeth and causes the enamel to break down. Over time this continued exposure of the tooth surface to plaque and tartar results in cavities
To place the sealant, we thoroughly clean and dry your teeth. Next, a conditioning solution is applied. Then we brush the sealant material into the grooves of your back teeth. Some types of sealants harden on their own, while others harden when exposed to a special light.
A sealant is an effective shield that can defend your back teeth against cavities and help preserve your oral health.
This procedure is relatively quick and absolutely painless.
If you play hockey, you wear shoulder pads. If you catch baseball, you wear a helmet. At a skate park, you wear a helmet. But, no matter what sport you play, the one thing you always need is a mouthguard. Here’s why.
A mouth missing front teeth means you cannot eat some of the foods that you like; you probably won’t smile much, and you might not speak very well.
If you are hit in the mouth with a hard object like a ball or an elbow or even get pushed to the ground, a mouthguard can cushion the blow.
A mouthguard is like a seatbelt for your mouth. It will prevent cuts to your lips, tongue and the inside of your cheeks. It cushions any blow to your mouth, which can help reduce damage from a concussion, and it will protect against getting a broken jaw. Wearing a mouthguard is less expensive than repairing a broken tooth, and, of course, it helps keep your teeth in your mouth.
Types of mouthguards
You can buy a stock mouth protector at many stores. It is ready to wear, but it can be uncomfortable and bulky and make it difficult for you to breathe or talk.
A boil-and-bite mouthguard is also easy to find at many stores. Place it in hot water; let it cool for a few seconds, and then, bite down on it to shape it to your mouth. This is better than a stock mouthguard, but it can be difficult to fit correctly.
The best mouthguard is made by your dentist. We take an impression of your teeth. If you wear braces, we may recommend one for your lower teeth as well as your upper teeth. The impression is sent to a lab to make a mouthguard that is an exact fit for you. You might be able to request special colors or design. You will come back in a few days. We will make sure the mouthguard fits you well and give you a special case to keep it in to protect the mouthguard and make it easier to keep track of.
To care for your mouthguard, rinse it with water before and after wearing it; brush it with a soft toothbrush, and use toothpaste. You should occasionally wash it in mild dish soap. Do not leave it in the hot sun, and regularly check it for tears or damage.
A mouthguard is an important piece of equipment for any sport. It can keep you in the game for years to come.
Daily Home Care
Whether you have all, some or none of your natural teeth, you can protect and improve your oral health by taking a few minutes every day to care for your teeth and gums.
Brushing your teeth is an important part of keeping your mouth healthy. For best results:
Facts on Brushing
The best technique for brushing involves using a circular or elliptical motion to brush a couple of teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth. Place a toothbrush beside your teeth at a 45-degree angle and gently brush teeth in an elliptical motion. Brush the outside of the teeth, inside the teeth, your tongue and the chewing surfaces and in between teeth. Using a back and forth motion causes the gum surface to recede, or can expose the root surface or make the root surface tender. You also risk wearing down the gum line.
Soft or hard bristles?
In general, a toothbrush head should be small (1" by 1/2") for easy access. It should have a long, wide handle for a firm grasp. It should have extra soft or soft, nylon bristles with round ends. Some brushes are too abrasive and can wear down teeth. A soft, rounded, multi-tufted brush can clean teeth effectively. Press just firmly enough to reach the spaces between the teeth as well as the surface. Medium and hard bristles are not recommended.
How long should I brush?
It might be a good idea to brush with the radio on, since dentists generally recommend brushing 3-4 minutes, the length of an average song. Using an egg timer is another way to measure your brushing time. Patients generally think they're brushing longer, but most spend less than a minute brushing. To make sure you're doing a thorough job and not missing any spots, patients are advised to brush the full 3-4 minutes twice a day instead of brushing quickly five or more times through the day.
Flossing removes bits of food and plaque from between your teeth and under the gum line that can cause gum disease. Flossing before you brush will give you best results. Be sure to floss on both sides of every tooth, every day. If using long strands of floss is difficult because of arthritis, or if youfeel your fingers are getting in the way, plastic floss holders are available at pharmacies.
Should I floss?
Yes. Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. Floss is the single most important weapon against plaque, perhaps more important than the toothbrush. Many people just don't spend enough time flossing or brushing and many have never been taught to floss or brush properly. When you visit your dentist or hygienist, ask to be shown.
Which type of floss should I use?
Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. Wide floss, or dental tape, may be helpful for people with a lot of bridgework. Tapes are usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide. They all clean and remove plaque about the same. Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight restorations. However, the unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know your teeth are clean. Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss, but does tear more than waxed floss.
How should I floss?
Take an 18-inch piece of floss and wind the bulk of the floss lightly around the middle finger. (Don't cut off your finger's circulation!). Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Maneuver the floss between teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Don't pull it down hard against your gums or you will hurt them. Don't rub it side to side as if you're shining shoes. Bring the floss up and down several times forming a "C" shape around the tooth being sure to go below the gum line.
How often should I floss?
At least once a day. To give your teeth a good flossing, spend at least two or three minutes.