Regular dental visits every six months are essential to maintaining your oral health. A typical visit to the dentist involves a professional cleaning and a thorough exam of your oral health. Professional cleanings allow us to remove hardened tartar, which you can’t remove by brushing, and which provides shelter to oral bacteria, contributing to gum disease. A thorough exam allows us to check on the state of your oral health, which includes looking for gum disease, tooth decay, oral cancer, and other health issues that may arise.
The Source of Oral Health Problems
In our mouth live hordes of bacteria, some of which are good for us and some of which are bad. Unfortunately, the high-calorie food that we eat today is not only easier for us to digest, it’s easier for the bad bacteria in our mouth to consume as well. These bacteria can thrive on all the starches and especially sugars that we eat, which allows them to form huge colonies on our teeth that are bound together with sticky proteins. We call these biofilms, or, more simply, plaque.
As these bacteria eat sugars, they excrete acids that attack your tissues, decaying your teeth and making your gums red and inflamed. The more damage these bacteria do, the more they will find shelter in and among your teeth and gums.
How Cleanings Help Protect Your Mouth
Brushing and flossing every day help to remove the sticky biofilms from your teeth. If you do this perfectly, you would keep your teeth completely clean.
But it’s generally impossible to remove all the biofilm from your teeth. Instead, what’s left behind takes in some of the minerals in your saliva (they’re there to help remineralize your teeth) and turns into tartar, which is too hard to be brushed away. Tartar then provides shelter for bacterial colonies, which grow larger and stronger, causing more damage to teeth and gums.
During your cleaning appointment, we will carefully remove the tartar, preventing bacteria from gaining too strong a foothold in your mouth.
Exams Protect Your Mouth, Too
Once your teeth have been fully cleaned, we will perform a thorough exam of your teeth. This allows us to identify where decay is occurring and treat it with the least invasive treatment possible. The more of your natural tooth material we can preserve, the better.
It’s better to get a tooth-colored filling rather than a dental crown, and it’s better to get a dental crown before you need a root canal, and a root canal is better than having to replace a lost tooth with dentures, bridges, or implants.
During your exam, we will take digital x-rays as well. Digital x-rays provide good resolution, and are easy for you to see, too. They allow us to look inside your tooth to see how much decay is really there. It also lets us see whether receding gums are being accompanied by bone loss around your teeth.
We also utilize the DiagnoDent cavity detection system, which uses light to look for decay that is hiding just under the surface.