Many people do not realize that the single most important thing you can do to protect your teeth and have a healthy smile lies squarely in your hands. Brushing twice a day every day for two minutes and flossing every day is pivotal for having a healthy mouth. It can help preserve your natural healthy tooth structure and can also help to make any fillings or crowns you have had last that much longer.
The second most important piece of your oral health puzzle is to see your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. These preventative visits have been shown to decrease the risk for cavities, gum and bone disease and failing restorations. One of the most important parts of having regular checkups is the ability to diagnose and treat oral conditions sooner. Early detection can help us catch cavities when they are smaller, gum disease while it is still reversible and oral cancer while it has a higher efficacy for treatment.
TYPES OF CLEANINGS
There are many types of dental cleanings which are recommended depending on the health of your gum and bones. For most adults, a normal standard cleaning, or adult prophy, is recommended. It typically takes about an hour (including the dental exam).
But if you have severe gingivitis, or active periodontitis, then you may need a deep cleaning. This type of cleaning typically takes longer, and you may need anesthesia or local numbing to help tolerate this cleaning. This cleaning is especially important because it is often the first step to making sure you do not lose any more bone, which, if progresses, can further result in the loss of your teeth. If your teeth are moving, wiggling, or ache in the gums, you may need a deeper cleaning. You can schedule an appointment here to help learn about the health of your mouth and your oral health needs.
For those patients who have had periodontal disease, we like to protect their health and bones to ensure they have stability and their bone loss does not progress. This may need a specific type of maintenance appointment which is scheduled like a normal cleaning or a more frequent recall.
This may sound complicated but don’t worry! We are here to help you understand what is best for you and your oral health. Our primary goal is to help educate our patients so they understand how to have the healthiest mouths and the happiest lives.
The Academy of General Dentistry recommended cleanings at least every 6 months but here are Smile Always, we believe in more personalized care. At every visit, we check the health of your gum and bones very thoroughly and will inform you if we see any signs of gingivitis, periodontitis or high risk for caries or cavities. If you have any of these signs and symptoms, taking into consideration the stability of these problems, we will recommend a cleaning schedule which may be more or less frequent than every 6 months. We will help you maximize your insurance benefits regardless of the schedule we recommend and have many options for those patients whose insurance benefits do not align with their needs.
What should I expect at my preventative visit?
At your preventative visit, you will have the following:
- A thorough visual examination of your head and neck, gums, cheeks, tongue and mouth.
- X-rays only as needed – We believe in making sure to diagnose only those x-rays which are required. We have special digital x-rays which help us diagnose cavities so early that you can reverse them yourself and still provide 90% less radiation than traditional x-rays. In fact, you get more radiation from one round of golf in the Colorado sunshine than you do from x-rays for an entire year in our office! Your health matters to us!
- A very detailed oral cancer screening
- Digital diagnostics which help the doctor diagnose certain conditions sooner and more effectively.
- A gum and bone examination which evaluates pocket depth and diagnoses periodontal disease if you have it.
- Professional cleaning using advanced hydraulic and ultrasonic technology. Your teeth will also be polished which will help them look and feel smooth, shiny and white and reduce the amount of plaque which can attach to them, making them healthier and protecting them against future cavities.
- A comprehensive record using electronic dental records which help monitor conditions over time.
Gum and Bone Exam
An annual gum and bone check is very important to determine risk and presence of gingivitis, gum disease, or periodontitis, gum and bone disease. Typically, gingivitis is reversible but once it moves to your bones and causes bone loss, the regrowth of bone is more challenging and involves surgical intervention. Gum disease is not usually linked to any pain and progresses silently. Often one of the only noticeable signs of bone disease is loose teeth. This is why we take the periodontal exam very seriously. Maintaining good oral health and looking for signs of change is very important.
When we do a gum and bone exam, or periodontal probing, we are looking for acute changes which may indicate risks for bone disease. Your tooth sits inside of your bone surrounded by gum tissues and the periodontal ligament, or the ligament which holds the tooth into the bone. As you get periodontal disease, your body begins to lose the bone which holds the tooth in. Measuring the periodontal pockets, or the space between the tooth and the gum and bones, helps measure the inflammation which causes this to happen.
As the depth of the periodontal pocket increase, measured in number of millimeters, so does the risk or presence of periodontal disease. 1-3 mm pockets are ideal. Bleeding of the gums is also another indication of that inflammation and is also measured and recorded at your exam.
Technology to Improve Our Care
At every visual examination, we use intraoral cameras to help us document the cavities and lesions we find. These intraoral cameras are equipped with technologically advanced magnification, lighting and even radiation-free caries detection to help see cavities sooner and safer. With state of the art, large screen monitors, we use these intraoral pictures to help educate you about your mouth and the path to achieving oral health.
Are you tired of hearing you have a cavity but not knowing where it is or how deep it is? We believe in education. In our office, you will see the cavity and be able to co-diagnose it. Our education helps to eliminate doubts and builds the trust which then becomes the foundation of our relationship with our patients. We aim to provide excellent care with passion and kindness. We aim to be your partners in your oral health.
We also have 3D imaging capabilities which help us see the precise location of teeth stuck in bone, bone levels for implants, growths and cysts, and nerves.
Your dentist will determine if you need this technology for any oral health problems which are found. Less than 10% of general practices have this technology across the nation, so should you need it, rest assured you are in good hands.
Additionally, we have special digital oral cancer screening devices. You can learn more about this technology and how it can save lives here.