Checkups & Cleaning
Maintenance for Your Oral Health
When thinking about your approach to wellness, it can be helpful to imagine your body as a vehicle for your life. Like a transport vehicle, your body has a number of systems and sub-systems which have to be running well for the larger system to run well, since these systems are interdependent upon each other. The best way to maintain any vehicle is not to use a break/fix model that addresses issues as they arise, but rather to adopt a preventative approach. Preventative maintenance increases the likelihood of addressing issues early in their development and decreases the likelihood of a catastrophic issue arising (seemingly) out of nowhere.
In order to truly adopt a preventative approach, there are several things to consider. The first is the fuel that you are putting into your vehicle – also known as your nutrition. Higher quality foods mean that your body has the resources it needs to send the vitamins and minerals needed to support your systems out to where they are needed most. The second item is lifestyle – what are you doing every day to give your body it’s best shot at health? Are you exercising, keeping a positive frame of mind and maintaining a healthy weight? If you are smoking cigarettes and consuming alcohol frequently, these are items that should be first to go. The third item to consider is how well you are maintaining your body between visits to your doctor and your dentist.
Your dentist wants you to be brushing and flossing every day without exception, as this is the best way to keep bacterial counts minimized in the mouth and to reduce the opportunity for acids to develop and decay to set in. When it’s time for your semi-annual dentist appointment, your dentist will assess the health of your oral tissues, joints and teeth in order to assist you in keeping oral health concerns at bay.
Checkups and Cleanings
This is like a mechanical look under the hood – for your teeth! Your dentist will begin your checkup by updating their knowledge of your medical and oral health since the last time you were seen. Then, a visual look at the teeth, gums and tongue will identify any immediate concerns that should be investigated. Your dentist may use a special light to help them see beneath the surface of your soft tissues – this is where prevention really comes in! Checks like these can identify tissue disorders like cancers far before there are indications on the surface, like a sore that persists without improving.
Dental X-rays will be performed in order to check the health of your jawbone, tooth roots and sockets. Since not all dental problems occur with symptoms, this gives you and your dentist the opportunity to identify any concerns early in their development so that they can be diagnosed and managed before they do unnecessary damage to your teeth and mouth. If you have concerns about having X-rays done, you can rest easy knowing that new digital Xray machines do not have the same output of radiation that used to come with older Xray machines – in fact your exposure will be limited to a fraction of that of older machines.
Once your dentist is satisfied that they’ve checked everything thoroughly, you will have an opportunity to ask questions or discuss any findings before your dental hygienist is alerted that you are ready to begin your cleaning. Cleaning starts with scaling, which manually scrapes the hardened tartar from your teeth. Frequent brushing and flossing combined with a good diet limits the development of plaque and tartar in the mouth, but some amount is to be expected – particularly behind the lower front teeth where saliva enters the mouth through the salival glands.
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Once tartar has been removed, your teeth will be gently polished, and a fluoride treatment may be offered. Fluoride treatments increase the resiliency of your teeth to decay, and therefore helps to promote oral health. It is important not to eat or drink for at least 30 minutes following a fluoride treatment, since the fluoride needs time to penetrate in order to offer its full benefit.
Your dental hygienist is available for coaching and education about anything oral hygiene related such as how to floss, how to manage tooth sensitivity and how to effectively prevent the onset of common complaints such as gingivitis and halitosis (bad breath).
Getting in regularly for a checkup and cleaning is important if you really want to give your teeth and gums their best shot at lasting for the duration of your lifetime without needing dentures or other interventions. We recommend making an appointment for your next cleaning and checkup before you leave the clinic. This way, you decrease the likelihood of overlooking booking your next appointment. If your appointment is made far in advance, don’t worry! Our clinic is happy to offer reminders prior to your next appointment.
If you have questions about these or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.