No matter how diligent you are in your home dental care regimen, you should still get a dental exam and cleaning at least twice per year. The importance of regular dental exams cannot be overemphasized - dental exams are the cornerstone of good dental health. In particular, regular checkups are essential for early detection of more serious problems. Early detection makes treatment easier, less expensive, and more effective. During your dental exam, Dr. Laurie will perform the following routine checks:
- Examine and assess gum health; check for gum disease.
- Take and analyze x-rays, which may reveal decay, bone loss, abscesses, tumors, cysts, and other problems.
- Screen for the presence of oral cancer.
- Verify the stability of any existing fillings or other restorations.
- Inform you of all findings and make treatment recommendations.
Regular dental cleanings, performed by a registered dental hygienist, are a crucial part of preventive dental care. By removing plaque and tartar, your dental hygienist enhances your oral health and minimizes your risk of gingivitis and periodontal disease. Your dental hygienist will utilize manual instruments to scale away moderate plaque and tartar buildup, or an ultrasonic device to scale away heavier buildup. The cleaning is finished with polishing, a pleasant procedure that cleans the surface of teeth, removes stains, and leaves the mouth feeling clean and refreshed.
If it is determined that you have a form of gum disease that requires a more involved cleaning, we will inform you of our treatment recommendations (see Periodontal Disease).
Early signs of gum disease include redness, swelling, or inflammation around the gum line. If these warning signs appear, your dentist will check for calculus (tartar) below the gumline. Your dentist or hygienist may use a tool called a probe to test gums for bleeding and measure periodontal pockets. X-rays will be used to evaluate the bone level around your teeth. Though the main cause of gum disease is lack of oral hygiene, contributing factors include heavy smoking and diabetes.
Gingivitis is the early stage of periodontal disease, when only the soft tissues of the mouth are affected. Plaque buildup leads to tartar and bacteria below the gumline, which leads to inflamed, irritated, or bleeding gums. The good news is, gingivitis is reversible. A good professional cleaning, followed by regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, restores gums to good health by removing plaque and bacteria.
Periodontitis is marked by the breakdown of structures that surround, secure, and support the teeth. These structures include the bone, gums, and fibers which anchor the teeth to the gums. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Though bone that has been resorbed due to perio disease will not grow back, aggressive treatment and impeccable home care will keep it from getting worse.
Gingivitis is easily treated with a professional cleaning (prophy) and proper home care to remove the plaque before it becomes calculus. Contributing factors may be dry mouth (due to medications or medical conditions), braces, mouth-breathing, and many more. We will work together to help you maintain healthy gums.
Periodontitis will require more aggressive treatment. A deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) may be recommended which involves the removal of plaque/calculus below the gums. For your comfort, anesthesia is used and the procedure is broken up into 2 (or more) visits for the deep cleaning itself and a final polish visit where we remove any residual stain and check for persistent areas of inflammation.
The use of a slow-released antibiotic placed into deep pockets may be necessary as well as prescription mouth rinses.
Perio patients frequently require cleanings and check-ups every 3-4 months. With proper home care and frequent check-ups, patients need regular cleanings to maintain their periodontal health.
Sealants are a plastic coating placed on the chewing surface of teeth to prevent decay from forming in the grooves of the teeth. Ideally, they are placed on the permanent first molars which usually come in around age 6. This is the perfect time to protect these crucial teeth since children don't brush well and their diets sometimes leave a lot to be desired. Most insurance plans cover sealants at 100%.