Dental Exams and Cleanings

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Dental Exams

A comprehensive dental exam is critical to your ongoing dental health and can only be performed by your dentist. At your initial dental appointment, we ask that you arrive 10 minutes early and plan to be at our office for approximately 15-45 minutes. Your first appointment will include a comprehensive oral examination, as well as dental X-rays to help assess your oral health.

 

A dental exam can catch problems before you see or feel them. Identifying problems early on makes them easier and less expensive to treat. Your dentist will be looking for:

  • Tooth decay and damage

  • Signs of cavities

  • Periodontal (gum) disease

  • Early signs of oral pathology (oral cancer, etc.)

  • Condition of previous dental work (fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures)

  • General condition of your TMJ (joint), mouth and muscle

  • Crowding/spacing and correct bite (tooth to tooth relationship)

  • Options to replace missing teeth with implants/bridges/dentures

  • How to improve your smile

Teeth Cleaning (Scaling)

The primary function of a dental cleaning appointment is the prevention of cavities (dental caries), gingivitis and periodontal disease. Regular dental cleanings are the cornerstone for a lifetime of dental health. Your cleaning appointment will include the following:

  • Removal of tartar (hard deposits) from above and below the gum line to stop and prevent gum disease

  • Removal of plaque that forms on the teeth, causing tooth decay and periodontal disease

  • Teeth polishing to remove superficial stains and plaque not removed during tooth brushing and scaling​

If you have sensitive gums, local freezing can be used to make it more comfortable. We also offer numbing mouth rinse that makes you feel more comfortable.

For an average healthy patient with no history of periodontal disease, scaling is recommended every 6 months. This is because the gum disease bacteria will regrow and can restart the inflammation cycle after this period of time. In a patient with active periodontal disease, every 3 to 4 months may be needed to control the gum disease and to stop the progression. In a patient with active gum disease, the bacteria will grow deep underneath the gum, which your floss/brush is unable to reach. Therefore, a dental hygienist has to use special tools to reach the site to remove the source of inflammation (bacteria) to allow the tissue to heal. Then every few months, we have to re-assess the pockets around the teeth, and make sure the gum has responded to the treatment.

In the long term, people with regular dental scalings have less bleeding when brushing and are less likely to need dentures later on in their life.

X-Rays

There are several different types of X-rays that can be used to monitor your oral health:

Bite wings:

  • Taken during regular dental check up, usually once per year

  • Small X-ray on each side, generally one to two films per each side

  • Used to check for any cavities between the teeth which can not be seen with a standard visual exam

  • Check the bone height around the teeth to diagnosis or assess periodontal (gum) disease

  • Used to see tartar (hard deposits on your teeth) hidden between your teeth

  • Check the margins of existing crowns and dental fillings

Periapicals (PA):

  • Used to check specific sites as needed

  • Check for possible abscess or infection at the apex of the teeth

  • Check root canal condition, signs of root fracture, and implant status

Panoramic (PAN):

  • Large X-ray taken for new patients, and for existing patients every 3 to 5 years

  • Check oral pathology

  • Check the bone level before dentures and implants

  • Assess overall gum condition and help diagnose stages of gum disease

  • See the proximity to anatomical landmarks (nerves, sinus) before implant placement

  • Check wisdom teeth condition

Cephalmetric (ceph):

  • Side X-ray taken before orthodontic treatment to check jaw bone alignment

 

CBCT:

  • 3D dental CBCT is taken under special order for a specific need, such as implant surgery, oral pathology, challenging wisdom teeth position, or size of infection/lesion