A comprehensive dental exam will be performed at your initial dental visit. Regular check-up exams will include the following:
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
- Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
- Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
- Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
- Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
Professional Dental Cleaning
Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually performed by Registered Dental Hygienists. Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:
- Removal of calculus (tartar)
- Removal of plaque
- Teeth polishing
- Fluoride Treatment
Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Digital x-rays, or digital radiography, offer the latest in dental x-ray technology. Instead of using x-ray film, the digital image is transferred to a computer, where it can be viewed instantly. The dentist or dental hygienist can enlarge the picture, making it even easier to detect problems.
The panoramic x-ray gives a broad overview of the entire mouth. It is also used for evaluating patients:
- with past or present TMJ or jaw joint problems
- who require full or partial removable dentures, dental implants, or braces
- who are at risk or suspected of having oral cancer or other tumors of the jaw
- have impacted teeth (especially wisdom teeth) or have had any recent trauma to the face or teeth (e.g. can help identify a fractured jaw)
- those who cannot tolerate other types of films (severe gaggers)
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is the biggest defense against tooth decay. It’s present in almost all foods and water supplies, and for over half a century, health professionals have praised its benefits and recommended its use.
Topical fluoride is what most people associate with childhood dentist visits. Dental check-ups frequently include a professional application of fluoride, but it’s also commonly found in toothpaste and mouth rinse. Topical fluoride seeps into the tooth enamel from outside, increasing the tooth’s resistance to decay.
Systemic fluoride helps existing teeth and those still developing under the gums. It is found in a lot of foods and most community water supplies, but can also be prescribed as drops or as a gel supplement. Too much fluoride during childhood, when teeth are still developing, can lead to fluorosis (white spots on the teeth), so it’s important to limit the amount of fluoride children ingest.
Remember: fluoride is not a replacement for good oral habits! Brushing at least twice a day, flossing regularly, eating balanced meals, and scheduling routine dental exams are all vital to preventing tooth decay and maintaining a healthy smile.
A sealant is a thin plastic coating that is applied to the back molars, which are the teeth that are used the most while chewing. These teeth have a high risk of developing cavities because of their grooves, and since they are in the back of the mouth they can be more difficult to thoroughly clean with brushing and flossing. Food that gets stuck in the grooves of these teeth feeds bacteria in the mouth that attack tooth enamel and cause cavities.
Dental decay from cavities can damage a tooth permanently. Dental sealants help prevent cavities from occurring in the first place, potentially saving time and money. Sealants can last for up to 10 years, and can easily be reapplied if they wear off.
Dental sealants are often applied to children and teenagers, but patients of all ages interested in giving their teeth added protection from cavities can benefit from sealants.
Custom Athletic Mouth guards
Dental injuries are easily prevented. Properly fitted custom mouth guard may reduce the rate of concussion as well as dental injuries.
The American Dental Association recommends wearing custom mouth guards during all practices and competition for the following sports: acrobats, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. Other experts include baseball and softball infielders on that list.
According to the American Dental Association, the best mouth guard is one that is utilized during sport activities. Because custom mouth guards are smaller and offer more protection for the teeth, athletes may be more likely to wear them consistently than either stock or boil and bite mouth guards.
It is important to remember damaged teeth do not grow back. Protect that perfect smile – wear a mouth guard!