For the last eighteen months, many Americans have missed their routine dental checkups because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some may have forgotten what these entail and why they are so important!
While it may vary from dentist to dentist, here’s a refresher of some of the most common steps in a typical checkup.
The American Dental Association recommends that all adults have their teeth professionally cleaned by a dental professional at least twice per year. Those with a high risk for cavities or gum disease may require more frequent dental cleanings to maintain great oral health and reduce disease risk.
During a professional teeth cleaning, your dentist or registered dental hygienist performs a variety of important tasks in the mouth. First, a cleaning involves the removal of all bacterial buildup from the teeth. This includes both soft plaque and hardened tartar. The dental professional uses specialized instruments to remove the buildup without damaging the underlying tooth structure. Your hygienist will then polish away any rough areas on the teeth that are likely to collect bacteria with a gritty polishing paste.
Most adults need a small series of close-up dental x-rays to screen for early cavities and gum disease at least once per year. Those with complex dental histories and extensive dental work may need additional x-rays to evaluate various areas of the mouth.
Dental x-rays enable your dentist to identify early signs of progressive dental diseases like cavities and gum disease. Early detection is key to conservative treatment. Dental x-rays, especially those in a digital format, are low in radiation and very safe.
Your dentist will perform a procedure called “periodic oral evaluation”. This thorough evaluation of your mouth assesses your oral health and identifies areas of disease or areas of risk. This portion of the dental check-up also includes a soft tissue examination, during which your dentist evaluates the lips, cheeks, tongue, floor of the mouth and throat region. This also includes an oral cancer screening.
Your dentist will also evaluate your jaw joint function (the TMJs) and note any evidence of dysfunction. Be prepared to answer questions about clicking, popping, pain, snoring, sleep quality, sensitivity of the teeth, bleeding when brushing or flossing, etc . . . Your dentist will incorporate your own symptoms into his or her assessment of your oral health.
A risk assessment is a vital part of understanding your unique oral health. Human beings are individuals with specific areas of risk for a variety of diseases. You must understand these risk factors in order to take the right steps to fight disease in your mouth.
For example, not everyone has a high risk for cavities. We have seen hundreds of individuals with relatively mediocre home care who rarely suffer from tooth decay. This simply means that they have a low risk for cavities. They may have a high risk for gum disease or damage from clenching or grinding.
In order to take the right preventive measures, you must know which diseases you specifically need to prevent. We identify your risk factors and educate you on how to lower those risks through the use of preventive oral care methods and products.
Because so much important preventive care occurs during a routine dental checkup, missing them can increase your risk for cavities, gum disease, and damage from harmful habits. Those who have not had a professional teeth cleaning in a year or more will likely have excessive bacterial buildup on the teeth. This leads to active gum disease and may require more than a “regular” cleaning to restore gum health.
This bacterial buildup also increases the risk for new cavities, so many people who miss cleanings for several years hear the unwelcome news that they have developed multiple areas of decay since their last visit. Excessive plaque and tartar buildup also causes bad breath.
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today to schedule a consultation with one of our expert dentists. We can answer all of your questions about dental checkups and why they are so essential for great oral health. Call us at (845) 259-2500 or complete our online contact form today!