Checkups & Cleaning
We are all guilty of delaying preventative self-care sometimes – life can be busy. Annual eye exams, annual and milestone medical exams and regular dental maintenance are all services with a common limitation – you must prioritize them to realise their benefit.
If feeling great makes you put off a maintenance appointment, it should be noted that maintenance is made for just that – to keep you feeling great. Waiting until you are developing symptoms is not only not good for your health, but how well the issue can be resolved typically decreases over time. For example, a small cavity may go untreated for some time before the patient begins to feel the discomfort of decay that has opened up the pulp of the tooth. What might have been accomplished with a small filling could now require a root canal
This example describes one way that regular checkup and cleaning appointments are beneficial, but checkups aren’t just concerned with whether you have a cavity or not. Dental checkups involve an in-depth review of the health of all the tissues in your mouth including tongue, palate and cheeks – not to mention, teeth. Changes in your teeth are recorded and compared to your most recent records, and changes in your medical profile, including changes in medication are recorded.
A checkup looks inside your tissues, too. Dentists combine what they can ascertain from visual checks with technology like digital X-rays, or lights that show irregularities beneath the surface of the skin.
This is the right time to talk to your dentist about any complaints you might have. Issues can range from painful dentures to sensitive teeth, painful chewing and even chronic headaches. The time that you spend with your dentist at a regular checkup is often the greatest opportunity to build trust and rapport between you, so be sure to take a few moments to discuss. There is less opportunity to interact and communicate during procedures, since the mouth remains open.
Once all necessary checks are complete, your dentist will provide you with an overview of their findings. Emerging concerns like gingivitis or gum recession are discussed, and recommendations for any required treatment can be arranged. Before leaving to treat the next patient, your dentist will introduce the dental hygienist who will be professionally cleaning your teeth.
If you’re happy with the way your teeth look, you may be tempted to put off cleaning. Your daily brushing and flossing routine may be yielding great results, but professional cleaning is intended for the cleaning that brushing and flossing haven’t done.
If you have neglected your last couple of cleanings, you may have begun to feel a sandy debris on the collars of your teeth – particularly in the lower front of the mouth near the salival gland. This debris is the result of the calcification of plaque and minerals, also known as tartar.
Some degree of tartar is to be expected between dental visits, and it can be irritating and inflammatory to the gums – not to mention that it often stains. A professional hygienist will scale the teeth, breaking away the tartar found on them without harming your enamel. Once this is achieved, a gritty paste and electric polisher are used to smooth the surface of the teeth. The smoother the tooth, the more difficult it is for plaque to stick. If you are diabetic, it is likely that your dentist will recommend that you attend cleaning appointments more frequently than every six months to support overall health.
Now the moment of truth… flossing. If you have been fibbing about regular flossing, your gums are about to give you away. Your hygienist will floss your teeth and note the amount of bleeding that presents. This is because the more you floss, the less you bleed. In fact, a healthy mouth should not bleed during flossing. The bleeding is the result of tartar, plaque and food debris left between the teeth which have left gum tissue vulnerable.
Finally, a fluoride rinse will strengthen enamel and you can be on your way! That is, after booking your next routine visit.
Having your next appointment in your calendar increases the likelihood of keeping that appointment. Patients who attending regular checkups and cleaning generally spend less time at the dentist than those who require procedures and restorations for conditions that are preventable. Taking time to prioritize your oral health means committing to a daily brushing and flossing regimen and attending regular checkup and cleaning appointments with your dentist. Neglecting one or the other puts the long-term health of your teeth at risk. How long has it been since your last visit?
If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.
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