Digital x-rays are state-of-the-art technology whereby x-rays of the patient’s mouth are taken by means of inserting a small sensor in the patient’s mouth. There are many advantages to digital x-rays. Most importantly, they reduce radiation exposure to patients by up to 90 percent (as compared with traditional x-rays). Since they provide instant images of the patient’s mouth on a television monitor located in the treatment room, the doctor and patient are able to discuss the x-rays during the same office visit at which they are taken, and the patient can be better educated about the proposed treatment.
Intra Oral Camera
An intraoral camera is a tiny video camera that is similar in size and shape to a pen. This small, sterilized probe is painlessly inserted in the mouth in order to capture detailed images of the interior. The use of intraoral cameras is painless and enables patients to see problems with their teeth and/or gums, including tarnished or corroded fillings, fractured teeth, decay, bleeding gums and plaque. Due to the magnification feature of the camera, it also assists the doctor in recognizing potential problems earlier than they might otherwise be seen by a visual examination. This technology allows the patient to see exactly what the doctor sees, and for the doctor and patient to discuss and decide upon the optimal treatment plan for the patient. It also ensures that the doctor is able to maintain the most up-to-date records of the patient’s treatment and monitor the progress of the treatment.
Comprehensive Dental Examination
A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by your dentist at your initial dental visit. At regular check-up exams, your dentist and hygienist 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 Cleanings
Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are performed by Registered Dental Hygienists or Dentist. Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:
- Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
- Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
- Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
A beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our ultimate goal when treating patients. Your personal home care plays an important role in achieving that goal. Your personal home care starts by eating balanced meals, reducing the number of snacks you eat, and correctly using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.
The Proper Way to Brush
The teeth should be brushed at least twice a day; ideally in the morning and before bed. The perfect toothbrush is small in size with soft, rounded-end bristles and no more than three months old. The head of the brush needs to be small enough to access all areas of the mouth, and the bristles should be soft enough so as not to cause undue damage to the gum tissue. The American Dental Association (ADA) has given electric toothbrushes their seal of approval; stating that those with rotating or oscillating heads are more effective than other toothbrushes.
Here is a basic guide to proper brushing:
- Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where the gums and teeth meet.
- Use small circular motions to gently brush the gumline and teeth.
- Do not scrub or apply too much pressure to the teeth, as this can damage the gums and tooth enamel.
- Brush every surface of every tooth, cheek-side, tongue-side, and chewing surfaces. Place special emphasis on the surfaces of the back teeth.
- Use back and forth strokes to brush the chewing surfaces.
- Brush the tongue to remove fungi, food and debris.
The Proper Way to Floss
Flossing is a great way to remove plaque from the interdental regions (between the teeth). Flossing is an especially important tool for preventing periodontal disease and limiting the depth of the gum pockets. The interdental regions are difficult to reach with a toothbrush and should be cleansed with dental floss on a daily basis. The flavor and type of floss are unimportant; choose floss that will be easy and pleasant to use.
Here is a basic guide to proper flossing:
- Cut a piece of floss to around 18 inches long.
- Wrap one end of the floss around the middle finger of the left hand and the other end around the middle finger of the right hand until the hands are 2-3 inches apart.
- Work the floss gently between the teeth toward the gum line.
- Curve the floss in a U-shape around each individual tooth and carefully slide it beneath the gum line.
- Carefully move the floss up and down several times to remove interdental plaque and debris.
- Do not pop the floss in and out between the teeth as this will inflame and cut the gums.
If you have any questions about the correct way to brush or floss, please ask your dentist or dental hygienist. Contact us today for dental appointment (link to request appt.)
Rinsing – It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.
Use other dental aids as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist: Interdental brushes, rubber tip stimulators, tongue cleaners, irrigation devices, fluoride, medicated rinses, etc., can all play a role in good dental home care.
Reasons why proper brushing and flossing are essential:
- Prevention of tooth decay – Tooth decay is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, and its treatment often requires complex dental procedures. Tooth decay occurs when the acids found in plaque erode the natural enamel found on the teeth. This phenomenon can easily be prevented by using proper home hygiene methods.
- Prevention of periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is a serious, progressive condition which can cause tooth loss, gum recession and jawbone recession. Periodontal disease is caused by the toxins found in plaque, and can lead to serious health problems in other parts of the body. Removing plaque and calculus (tartar) from the surface of the tooth using a toothbrush, and from the interdental areas using dental floss, is an excellent way to stave off periodontal problems.
- Prevention of halitosis – Bad breath or halitosis is usually caused by old food particles on or between the teeth. These food particles can be removed with regular brushing and flossing; leaving the mouth healthier, and breath smelling fresher.
- Prevention of staining – Staining or the yellowing of teeth can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as smoking, coffee and tea. The more regularly these staining agents are removed from the teeth using brushing and flossing techniques, the less likely it is that the stains will become permanent.
Fluoride Treatment – Fluoride Varnish
Typically, fluoride treatments end at age 14; that’s when insurance companies stop paying for topical fluoride treatments. However, fluoride can help at any age. Let me explain why.
Fluoride is similar to calcium, except that it has an extra electron, and therefore is more willing to bond to tooth structure in the place of calcium. Of course, like calcium, fluoride is a hard substance that makes the tooth strong.
As you age, if you have lots of crowns with leaky margins, areas of tooth erosion, or areas of abfraction (damaged areas of teeth with exposed dentin), fluoride treatment can make these areas stronger, more resistant to decay, and less sensitive to hot and cold.
The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are obvious candidates for dental sealants. But adults can benefit from sealants as well.
Dental sealants act as a barrier to prevent cavities. Dental sealants are made of a plastic material which is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most frequently.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces on teeth. But the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach all the way into the ridges and grooves to remove all food and plaque that builds up. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food debris.
Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply. The sealant is painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. This plastic resin bonds into the ridges and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and may last several years before a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.