Your First Visit
New patients receive a comprehensive examination which includes a screening for oral cancer, gum and bone disease, blood pressure, and systemic disorders. A routine oral exam is then performed on established patients to determine any changes in dental and health status since the previous visit.
Your gum tissue is measured with a fine instrument ruler to calibrate in millimeters pocket depth between the tooth and the connective gum tissue around the tooth. Pocket depths more than 4 millimeters could indicate disease and infection. The deeper the pocket, the greater the extent plaque bacteria collects and infection and gum disease develops.
X-rays are taken as needed.
Tooth scaling and root planing occur as needed.
Routine cleanings also include a professional polishing (Prophy) that removes the soft sticky plaque that is above the gum line.
How often should I get dental checkups?
For most people, a checkup and cleaning every 6 months is standard protocol. In special cases like braces, advanced gum disease and certain medical conditions 3-4 months may be advised.
How often should I get x-rays?
For most people, a complete radiographic survey should be done every 3-5 years for FMX, and a "check up" or "recall" set every 6 to 12 months.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay happens when plaque or bacteria come in contact with the tooth and is allowed to sit. The bacteria, once fed with sugars, produce acids that erode the enamel.
Causes of tooth decay include:
- Poor oral hygiene (brushing / flossing)
- Poor diet
- Acidic drinks (soda/energy drinks/sports drinks – even the sugar free ones!)
- High carbohydrate foods (sugar, sticky dried fruit, bread)
- Dry Mouth
What are cavities?
Cavities generally develop in the "hard-to-see" places in your mouth. These are normally the places where you need to floss. When bacteria combine with food particles, they form plaque that adheres to your teeth.
As long as plaque remains on the tooth, acid produced by bacteria will eat away the tooth structure. Once through the enamel, the acid attacks the dentin, which is that part of the tooth containing sensitive nerve fibers.
If the tooth decay reaches the dentin, a filling is needed to halt the degenerative process. Otherwise, it continues at an accelerated rate becoming larger and larger.
If not detected and repaired with a filling, the decay can reach the tooth nerve and cause the need for a root canal. With the decay removed and a filling in place the tooth is restored to its original contour.
Most Effective Brushing
Generally speaking, a soft bristled toothbrush is best. Whether you use a manual toothbrush or an electric, anything harder than “soft”, is too hard. Stiff bristles may give you that clean feeling, but they can also abrade your teeth and cause gum recession. To brush effectively hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum tissue and move the brush in a small circular motion. Brush for 2 minutes, spending 30 seconds on each quadrant and use an ADA approved tooth paste.
How do I use dental floss?
Floss is cheap, so don't be stingy! Tear off about a forearm's length to start. Wrap one end around the middle finger of one hand to "anchor" it and pick up the other end about 4-6 inches away with the middle finger of the other hand. This allows you to manipulate the floss with your thumb and fore finger. As you soil a section of floss, "reel" in another 4-6 inches of clean floss with the anchor finger as you release the floss with the other finger.
Once you get the floss past the tooth contact, move the floss up and down, perpendicular to the tooth. Never shoe-shine the teeth in a back-and-forth motion! You will either notch your teeth or cut your gums, or both!
In general, the tongue, with its rough surface, is the most common source of bad breath. "Tongue scrapers" are very effective in keeping the tongue clean.