Preventive Care: X-ray, Exam, Regular Dental Cleaning, Sealant, Fluoride Treatment
Comprehensive oral exam with digital x-ray
If you are a new patient, we recommend X-rays to determine the present status of your oral health and have a baseline to help identify changes that may occur later. And we can detect any new cavities, determine the status of your gum health and the development of your teeth. If you have any radiographs of your teeth, we may ask you for copies of them.
We will do an oral cancer and gum health screening at the first visit as a part of the comprehensive exam.
Dental X-rays are a useful diagnostic tool when helping us detect damage and disease not visible during a regular dental exam. How often X-rays should be taken depends on your present oral health, your age, your risk for disease, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease. For example, children may require X-rays more often than adults because their teeth and jaws are still developing and their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults. We will review your history, examine your mouth and then decide whether or not you need X-rays.
Are you pregnant? Make sure to tell your dentist. During your pregnancy, you may need to have X-rays taken as part of your treatment plan for a dental disease. Use of the leaded apron and thyroid collar will protect you and your fetus from radiation exposure. Dental X-rays do not need to be delayed if you are trying to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.
Oral Cancer Screening
During your regular dental exam, we will ask you about changes in your medical history and whether you’ve been having any new or unusual symptoms.
Then, we will check your oral cavity. This includes your lips, cheek lining, gums, the front part of your tongue, the floor of your mouth and the roof of your mouth. We will also examine your throat (pharynx) at the soft part at the roof of your mouth, including your tonsils, the back section of your tongue and where your tongue attaches to the bottom of your mouth. We will then feel your jaw and neck for any lumps or abnormalities.
The Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Research has identified a number of factors that increase the risk of developing oral cancers. Men are twice more likely to get oral cancer than women. Smokers and excessive alcohol drinkers older than 50 are the most at-risk.
The human papilloma virus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted, has also been associated with throat cancers at the back of the mouth. HPV-positive head and neck cancers are related to the rise in throat cancers in non-smoking adults. HPV-positive head and neck cancers typically develop in the throat at the base of the tongue and in the folds of the tonsils making them difficult to detect. Although people with HPV-positive cancers have a lower risk of dying or having recurrence than those with HPV-negative cancers, early diagnosis is associated with the best outcomes. Regular dental check-ups that include an examination of the entire head and neck can be vital in detecting cancer early.
Gum Disease Screening
Gum disease happens to millions of Americans, and yet it is a condition that is completely preventable with the proper oral care. This is why coming in every six months is so important not just for healthy teeth but also healthy gums. If you come in every six months to visit us, as you should, then you’re getting screened for gum disease and probably don’t even realize it. The screening only takes a couple of minutes and it’s completely painless.
We will use a small probe to check for spaces between your teeth and gums where there could be infected pockets. Larger pockets are often an indicator that you have gum disease. Other signs of gum disease include chronic bad breath, loose teeth and red swollen gums.
If we discover that you do have gum disease, do not despair. The next step is to try and figure out the severity of your gum disease. If we tell you that you have gingivitis, this early stage of gum disease can be reversed. Of course, full-blown periodontal disease can be managed with the proper treatments to prevent complications such as bone or tooth loss.
Regular Dental Cleanings
A professional teeth cleaning aims to remove plaque, tarter and stains that have accumulated on the teeth. Even with routine brushing and flossing of your teeth and gums, tarter can develop. The dental cleaning of teeth is a crucial part of good oral hygiene and is needed periodically to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. Most dentists recommend having your teeth professionally cleaned every 6-12 months to reduce the likelihood of periodontal disease progressing. In between routine cleanings, good oral hygiene at home is vital to prevent tarter build-up and gum disease.
The majority of dental patients find routine teeth cleaning to be painless. The cooling mist of water, mild vibrations, and the pressure felt during “scraping” does not generally caused discomfort. It’s important to let your dentist know if the cleaning is beginning to cause pain, so that they can recommend alternative options to make your teeth cleaning more enjoyable. Most dental cleanings last between 30 minutes to an hour on average, and are performed in a lying position in a comfortable dental chair. After a professional teeth cleaning, you may notice that your teeth feel fresher and look brighter. Teeth cleaning procedures are designed for more than just appearances. Professional teeth cleaning treatments are the primary means of preventing and treating periodontal disease and maintaining tooth health.
Brushing and flossing are the best ways to help prevent cavities, but it’s not always easy to clean every nook and cranny of your teeth – especially those back teeth you use to chew (called molars). Molars are rough, uneven and a favorite place for leftover food and cavity-causing bacteria to hide.
Still, there’s another safety net to help keep those teeth clean. It’s called a sealant, and it is a thin, protective coating (made from plastic or other dental materials) that adheres to the chewing surface of your back teeth. They’re no substitute for brushing and flossing, but they can keep cavities from forming and may even stop early stages of decay from becoming a full-blown cavity.
In fact, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child's dental health. In October 2016, the Centers for Disease Control released a report on the importance of sealants for school-aged children, of which only 43% of children ages 6-11 have. According to the CDC, "school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants."
Is There BPA In Sealants? Yes, there is a tiny amount of BPA in sealants but not enough to cause you or a loved one any harm. In fact, you get more exposure to BPA by simply touching a receipt, using cosmetics or coming in contact with dust.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that builds strong teeth and prevents cavities. It’s been an essential oral health treatment for decades. Fluoride supports healthy tooth enamel and fights the bacteria that harm teeth and gums. Tooth enamel is the outer protective layer of each tooth.
Fluoride is especially helpful if you’re at high risk of developing dental caries, or cavities. Cavities occur when bacteria build up on teeth and gums and form a sticky layer of plaque. Plaque produces an acid that erodes teeth and gum tissue. If the plaque breaks down the enamel layer, bacteria can infect and harm the nerves and blood at the core of the tooth. If you have a high risk of getting cavities, we can apply fluoride directly to your teeth during your dental visit with a gel. The treatment may be applied with a swab, brush, tray, or mouthwash.
These treatments have much more fluoride than what’s in your water or toothpaste. They only take a few minutes to apply. You may be asked to avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes after the treatment so the fluoride can fully absorb.
Oral Hygiene Instruction
Proper brushing and flossing is more important than the frequency of brushing. We can also recommend the proper oral hygiene tools that will fit your dental care needs. Here are some quick tips below:
Your teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque (sounds like PLAK). If you brush twice a day, you can remove most of the harmful plaque and bacteria. But if plaque stays on the teeth, it will eventually harden into tartar. It is harder to brush and floss when tartar builds up near the gum line.
Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay. Select a toothbrush that feels comfortable in your hand and in your mouth. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed. If you have hand, arm, or shoulder problems that limit movement, you may find a powered electric toothbrush easier to use.
Even if you brush twice a day, there are places your toothbrush bristles can't reach. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gum line.
If you have trouble handling floss, you may wish to try a floss holder or another type of interdental cleaning aid. Interdental cleaners include narrow brushes, picks, or sticks used to remove plaque from between teeth. Your dentist or hygienist can tell you how to use these special cleaners.
Visit us for a dental exam and cleaning at least every 6 months. This helps maintain your clean teeth and prevent any future problems.
Check your gums to make sure they’re pink and that the gum line hugs teeth tightly. Your gums should not bleed when you brush. If they do bleed, please let us know immediately.
Smokers and tobacco users are at greater risk of developing oral cancer and gum disease. In addition, tobacco products cause permanent stains, which cannot be removed by brushing, and it can also cause a heavy build-up of tartar, requiring more frequent dental cleanings.
Please call us if you have any questions regarding our denture services: 818-688-7646