Oral Hygiene and Prevention
Dentistry is much more than a series of procedures;
it is integral to your well-being.
A dental cleaning is a professional cleaning you receive from a dentist or dental hygienist. Most dental cleanings take only between 25 and 30 minutes. Cleanings should be performed every six months to prevent excessive plaque buildup. Plaque left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. Routine dental cleaning should include scaling, root planing, and polishing.
Scaling: This is the process of removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces in a variety of methods, depending on the amount of plaque and tartar.
Dental hygienists traditionally perform scaling by hand. However, new and advanced technology has led to more modern methods such as electric scalers. This sophisticated tool allows dental cleanings to be performed more efficiently and in less time. To achieve the best results, both electric and manual scaling methods are combined for dental cleanings.
“I can’t say enough great things about my first experience here. The staff was extremely friendly and attentive, the office is beautiful and clean as can be, and Phyllis did a fantastic job cleaning my teeth.”
– Carissa H.
Disease & Treatment
The gums, ligaments, and bone around the teeth form the foundation for one’s teeth. All structures are also referred to as the periodontium. When the periodontium is not healthy, it jeopardizes the teeth just as a bad foundation would threaten the stability of a house. Signs of unhealthy periodontium include gums that are red and bleed easily, persistent bad breath, gums that are pulled away from the tooth, loose teeth, and changes in the position or bite of the teeth. Any of these may be a sign of a problem. With proper gum treatments, however, it may be possible to return gum tissue to a healthy state. If you’re having a problem, come in and see us so we may treat it right away. The treatment usually involves a deep cleaning or root planing done under a local anesthetic, along with local antibiotic agents. If the gum disease gets too severe it may need to be treated through surgery or extraction. This is why it is important to have it treated at the first sign of a problem.
It only takes twenty-four hours for plaque that is not removed from your teeth to turn into calculus (tartar)! Daily home cleaning helps control plaque and tartar formation, but those hard-to-reach areas will always need special attention.
Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, Dr. Smith and the dental hygienist will recommend that you have regular maintenance cleanings (periodontal cleanings), usually four times a year. At these cleaning appointments, the pocket depths will be carefully checked to ensure that they are healthy. Plaque and calculus that are difficult for you to remove on a daily basis will be removed from above and below the gum line.
In addition to your periodontal cleaning and evaluation, your appointment will usually include:
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.
Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
Examination of tooth decay: Check all tooth surfaces for decay.
Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, cheek tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
Oral hygiene recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed. (Electric toothbrushes, special periodontal brushes, fluorides, rinses, etc.)
Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
Good oral hygiene practices and periodontal cleanings are essential in maintaining dental health and keeping periodontal disease under control.
Topical Fluoride – strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We gain topical fluoride by using fluoride-containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Dr. Smith and the dental hygienists generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during 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 supplies. It is also available as a supplement in drop or gel form and can be prescribed by Dr. Smith or your physician. Generally, fluoride drops are recommended for infants, and tablets are best suited for children up through the teen years. It is very important to monitor the amounts of fluoride a child ingests. 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. Dr. Smith or the 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.
Recent history of dental decay.
Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments
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 visit your dentist on a regular basis.
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.
Sealants are easily applied by Dr. Smith or the dental hygienist and the process takes only a couple of minutes per tooth.
The teeth to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and then surrounded with cotton to keep the area dry. A special solution is applied to the enamel surface to help the sealant bond to the teeth. The teeth are then rinsed and dried. Sealant material is 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.
Reasons for sealants
Here are various reason to consider getting 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 have deep grooves or depressions.
Baby teeth – Occasionally done if teeth have deep grooves or depressions and child is cavity prone.
Proper home care, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new sealants.
Best dentist in town! Dr. Smith’s staff has been taking excellent care of my kiddos teeth for years. Look no further, I even switched to go there myself last year.
– Chris S.