What you need to know about Dental Exams and Cleanings
What can I expect at a dental exam?
A regular dental exam by your dentist and hygienist will include:
- Examination of diagnostic X-rays (radiographs): Essential for detecting decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss, X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
- Oral cancer screening: We’ll check your mouth and cheeks for any signs of oral cancer.
- Gum disease evaluation: Your gums and the bone around your teeth are examined 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: They’ll look at your current fillings, crowns, etc.
What can I expect at a dental cleaning?
Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually performed by registered dental hygienists. Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and:
- 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 gingivitis, which can eventually develop into periodontal disease!
- Teeth polishing: Removes stains and plaque that are not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
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