Keeping your teeth and gums healthy requires cleaning and flossing them regularly at home and partnering with a dental hygienist to professionally clean your teeth. A professional dental cleaning is necessary because there are some important elements of oral hygiene that can’t be accomplished effectively at home. The bacteria that live in your mouth are responsible for gingivitis, cavities and bad breath. The hygienist will remove and disrupt the bacteria and plaque attached to your teeth below the gum line, remove hard deposits called tarter or calculus, and remove food stains from your teeth that brushing alone won’t resolve.
What Can I Expect At My Dental Cleaning?
Your dental cleaning appointment will begin with a conversation so you can share any concerns or questions with the dental hygienist. We will update your medical history and any medications you are taking and take your blood pressure. Any routine and necessary digital x-rays or photographs will be taken. At every cleaning appointment the health of your gums will be checked by measuring the distance from the top of the gum tissue to where it attaches to the tooth, a process known as “perio charting”. The bacteria, stain and hard deposits will be removed from your teeth during several different steps. An ultrasonic scaler will be used to gently remove the plaque, tarter and stain. The ultrasonic waves mechanically remove the deposits and also disrupt and kill the bacteria without damaging the tooth structure. The hygienist may also use hand instruments to continue the process of removing bacteria and stain, and will also floss and polish your teeth. During this appointment your teeth will be thoroughly checked for any dental concerns that have developed since your last visit. Based on an assessment of your risk of developing cavities or gum disease we will make recommendations for fluoride or other special preventive treatments.
How Often Do I Need X-rays?
Our office uses the latest low-power digital x-rays technology, and we take only the minimum x-rays necessary to effectively diagnose your oral health. There are many types of dental x-rays and they each have different diagnostic purposes. A panoramic x-ray is excellent for making sure all of the teeth are in place in growing children, looking at wisdom teeth and checking the upper and lower jaws for fractures or tumors. A “periapical” x-ray is used to show the dentist the entire tooth including the root and check for cavities, infections, and root fractures. “Bitewing” x-rays show only the portion of the tooth in your mouth and are used to check for cavities between the teeth and the loss of supporting bone from periodontal disease. Other images known as Cone Beam CT and Cephalometrix x-rays are taken for planning implants and orthodontics.
Which x-rays you need, and how often they are taken is determined on an individual basis. Factors such as your age, the health of your mouth, your risk of cavities and gum disease and your current dental work determine what is needed. During your dental cleaning appointment we will recommend any necessary x-rays and discuss the reasons with you to ensure you are fully informed.