Your teeth are about more than your appearance. With more and more studies tying oral health to your overall wellness, the importance of regular dental exams and cleanings is becoming clear. In the United States, 91% of adults have had dental cavities at some point during their lives, and 23% of kids between the ages of 2 and 11 have unmet needs when it comes to dental care. Ignoring your dental health can have serious consequences, including bad breath, painful dental decay, tooth loss, bone loss, and even system-wide inflammation that can affect a wide variety of body systems.
Fortunately, regular dental exams can help your dentist to diagnose and address dental health issues early, before they snowball into bigger problems. In addition to saving you time and money, dental cleanings are fast, easy, and typically covered by standard dental insurance policies. Here is a little more information about what to expect during your next dental checkup, and how Dental Excellence can improve your experience.
Since the goal of dental checkups is to evaluate and treat teeth and gum problems early, your exam will begin with filling out a brief medical history form. This paperwork is important to help your dentist understand the full scope of your oral health issues, so that treatments are safe and effective. You will also have the chance to talk with your hygienist about the parts of your mouth that are bothering you. Before you meet with the dentist, your hygienist will use a small mirror and a periodontal probe to carefully examine all areas of your mouth.
After the hygienist knows what they are working with, they will use a small tool called a scaler to gently scrape away plaque and tartar from the surfaces of your teeth. Because this process is relatively comfortable, you will not require any numbing shots before your teeth are cleaned. If you have areas of your mouth that have a significant amount of plaque and tartar buildup, multiple appointments may be needed to remove the deposits.
After the majority of the plaque and tartar has been removed from your teeth, your hygienist will use a special sonic cleaning tool and a gritty toothpaste to polish dental surfaces. At this point, you will have the opportunity to choose the flavor of polish you prefer, and then the hygienist will use the tool to scrub all of the surfaces of your teeth.
Before your teeth are rinsed, your hygienist will floss between all of your dental contacts with dental floss. Areas that bleed are treated and noted, and then your mouth is rinsed with clean water.
Once your teeth are cleaned and polished, you will meet with the dentist for a more thorough dental exam. During this exam, your teeth, gums, palate, and oral tissues will be checked for any abnormalities. The dentist will also evaluate any dental X-rays that were taken and determine if you need to make a second appointment for additional procedures.
Before you head home, you will be asked to swish with a protective fluoride treatment rinse. Fluoride, which is a naturally-occurring mineral, strengthens your dental enamel microscopically, helping to prevent tooth decay.
The American Dental Association recommends meeting with your dentist at regular intervals, with the frequency of those intervals determined by your dentist. For example, if you have generally healthy teeth, you might only need a dental exam every six months or so to protect your smile. On the other hand, if you have issues with gum disease or other oral health problems, you might need to meet with your dentist every few months to keep your mouth healthy. However, regular dental exams can help you to keep your teeth healthy, comfortable, and beautiful—saving you time, money, and frustration.
Are you due for a dental exam? Contact Dental Excellence today to schedule an appointment for your next checkup. Serving Independence, Blue Springs, and Lee’s Summit, MO, Dental Excellence is completely dedicated to improving the patient experience.