On your initial visit to a dentist, the doctor will perform all the necessary dental exams. He will take x-rays in order to make a well-informed decision regarding treatments. An exam is usually followed by a discussion about procedures that are required to restore your oral and dental health. It’s important to be prepared with the right questions during such a discussion so that you can get all your concerns addressed.
A dental exam involves the following:
- X-rays are taken to detect tooth decay, tooth or root misalignment, bone loss and the existence of tumors and cysts.
- Inspecting mouth tissue and gums for signs of oral cancer.
Early detection of oral cancer is important because according to data estimates, 50% of those diagnosed with oral cancer end up dying. It’s very difficult to notice the onset of oral cancer because it can go for long time without manifesting any symptoms or pain. This is what makes a dental exam so important because a professional dentist can detect and diagnose oral cancer.
- Checking for symptoms of gum disease or periodontal disease.
- Looking for signs of tooth decay and damage
- Confirming that all restorations are holding up.
Dental cleaning is also called dental prophylaxis. For optimal oral health, your teeth should be cleaned at least twice a year by a certified dental hygienist. A dental cleaning appointment starts with a dental exam, which involves carrying out the procedures mentioned above.
After the exam, your dentist will perform the cleaning, which includes the following:
Removing calculus (or tartar)
Calculus is the term used to describe plaque that has hardened and is firmly attached to the tooth. The hard deposits can build below or above the gum lines and removing them requires the use of special instruments.
Plaque forms every time you eat or drink. Though plaque is almost invisible, it’s highly dangerous to your teeth because it’s composed of a colony of bacteria that produce toxins which inflame your gums. Gum inflammation marks the early stages of periodontal disease.
After your teeth are cleaned, they will be polished in order to remove stains and plaque that was not removed during scaling.
Other services you might receive during your cleaning sessions include:
- Application of sealants to protect your back teeth
- Cleaning and modification of bridges and dentures
- During a cleaning session, your dentist will offer preventive services as well as education on proper dental care.
- You will also receive the necessary advice for cleaning your teeth at home.
- Your dentist will instruct you on how to properly brush your teeth
- You will receive instructions on effective methods for flossing
- If you smoke, you will be given relevant information for tobacco cessation. Tobacco is a major cause of mouth cancer and dental hygienists are at the forefront of educating their patients of the health risks involved by smoking.
- You will also get the necessary advice on nutrition and how it affects your dental health.
Your dental appointment will terminate with an evaluation of future treatment options, including scheduling for follow-up procedures such as future cleaning or other restorative treatments.