Check-up and Cleanings

About the Procedure

What happens at a typical Dental check-up appointment?


Professionals who will treat you: When you visit the dental clinic, you will be attended to by two oral healthcare professionals – your dentist and the dental hygienist. The dental hygienist will start by conducting an initial oral exam focused on your gums. It is important to note that hygienists are not permitted to diagnose tooth or gum issues, but they can document any problems they observe. Additionally, hygienists also record any changes in your overall health and medication usage.

In addition to documenting your oral health, dental hygienists play a vital role in your dental care. They will clean and polish your teeth, provide guidance on proper oral hygiene practices, and answer any questions you may have regarding home care products. Their expertise will assist you in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Your dentist will also conduct an oral exam, examining your gums and teeth thoroughly. They will inquire about changes in your overall health or medication usage, review the cleaning performed by the hygienist, and search for signs of oral cancer or other diseases. Following these evaluations, your dentist will diagnose any oral health problems identified and recommend appropriate treatment options.

  1. Cleaning: While regular tooth brushing and flossing at home aid in plaque removal, a professional cleaning executed by your dentist or dental hygienist is necessary to meticulously clean your teeth and eradicate hardened plaque, also known as calculus or tartar, which accumulates on tooth surfaces. The majority of hygienists employ various metal hand instruments for teeth cleaning. However, some hygienists are employing ultrasonic scalers that provide more effective deep cleaning above and below the gum line.
  1. Polishing: After the cleaning process, your teeth will undergo polishing to eliminate any remaining plaque and stains on the tooth surface. This is done using a polish that contains an abrasive substance and fluoride. The polish is applied using a small rotating rubber cup or brush attached to the dental handpiece.
  1. Prevention: Based on the results of your oral exam, your hygienist might provide you with additional instructions for proper at-home care. Do not hesitate to seek guidance from your hygienist regarding brushing techniques, flossing methods, or any general care queries pertaining to your teeth and gums.
  1. X-rays: Depending on your oral exam, dental history, and cavity risk assessment, your dentist may or may not take X-rays during your checkup. The need for X-rays will be evaluated accordingly.

Treatment recommendations: If any oral health issues are discovered during your examination, your dentist will provide recommendations for the most suitable next steps. These recommendations may include referral to another oral healthcare specialist, conducting additional diagnostic tests, or scheduling restoration work such as fillings and crowns. Your dentist may also advise you on additional oral healthcare practices to maintain optimal oral health.


What is a comprehensive dental exam?

A comprehensive dental exam is a thorough evaluation that goes beyond checking for tooth decay and gum health. It encompasses an examination of your entire mouth, head, and neck area. This type of exam is typically given to new patients visiting a dentist for the first time, but it should also be conducted periodically by dentists you have been visiting for years. Here are the evaluations typically included in a comprehensive dental exam:

  1. Head and neck: During this evaluation, your dentist will examine your head and neck for any issues or abnormalities. They will also check for swelling or tenderness in your lymph nodes and salivary glands in the neck area, which could indicate an infection or disease. Additionally, your temporomandibular joint, which connects the jawbone to the skull, will be examined to ensure proper functionality.
  2. Soft tissue: The soft tissues of your mouth, including the tongue, inside of the lips and cheeks, as well as the floor and roof of the mouth, will be thoroughly examined. Your dentist will look for any spots, lesions, cuts, swellings, or growths that could indicate an oral health problem. They will also inspect the back of your throat and tonsil area.
  3. Gum tissue: Your gums and the supporting structures of your teeth will be carefully examined for signs of gum disease, such as red or puffy gum tissue and bleeding upon gentle probing. If gum disease is detected, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist, who specializes in treating gum-related issues.
  4. Occlusion: The alignment and contact between your upper and lower teeth will be assessed. Your dentist will observe how your teeth meet and may request you to bite into wax to conduct a more thorough examination of your bite if necessary.
  5. Clinical examination of teeth: Each tooth’s surface will be examined for signs of tooth decay. Your dentist will likely use a dental instrument called an explorer to probe the teeth and check for cavities. Decayed enamel feels softer when probed compared to healthy enamel. Additionally, your dentist will inspect any existing fillings, braces, bridges, dentures, crowns, or other restorations for any issues or problems.
  6. X-rays: To further evaluate your oral health, your dentist may request X-rays. A certified technician will take these X-rays to look for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, or any other oral health conditions.

Overall, a comprehensive dental exam aims to provide a thorough assessment of your oral health, allowing for early detection and effective treatment of any issues.



What is a Dental Cleaning?

A dental cleaning, also known as a prophylaxis, is a professional procedure performed by a dental hygienist or dentist to remove plaque, tartar, and stains from your teeth. It is an important part of maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing oral health issues.

During a dental cleaning, the hygienist or dentist will use various tools and techniques to clean your teeth. These may include:

  1. Scaling: The dental professional will use a special instrument, such as a metal hand scaler or an ultrasonic scaler, to remove plaque and tartar from the surfaces of your teeth. This process helps eliminate bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay.
  2. Polishing: After scaling and root planing, your teeth will be polished to remove stains and make them smooth and shiny. A rotating rubber cup or brush is used along with a special polish that contains abrasive particles to remove surface stains.
  3. Flossing: The dental professional will floss your teeth to ensure that any remaining debris or plaque between the teeth and along the gumline is removed.
  4. Fluoride Treatment: In some cases, a fluoride treatment may be applied to help strengthen your teeth and protect them against tooth decay.

A dental cleaning not only improves the appearance of your teeth but also promotes overall oral health. It helps prevent gum disease, cavities, bad breath, and other oral health problems. Regular dental cleanings are recommended every six months for most individuals, along with proper at-home oral hygiene practices, contribute to maintaining optimal oral health.


Why are Dental Cleanings important for good oral health?

Dental cleanings play a crucial role in maintaining good oral health for several reasons:

  1. Plaque and tartar removal: Despite diligent brushing and flossing at home, plaque can still accumulate on teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that, if left unaddressed, can harden into tartar (also known as calculus). Tartar is difficult to remove with regular brushing and can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Dental cleanings remove both plaque and tartar, reducing the risk of oral health problems.
  2. Prevention of gum disease: Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common oral health issue that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gum inflammation (gingivitis) and, if left untreated, progress to more severe gum disease. Regular dental cleanings effectively remove the bacteria that cause gum disease, reducing inflammation, and preventing its progression.
  3. Early detection of oral health issues: During a dental cleaning, oral healthcare professionals thoroughly examine your teeth, gums, and oral tissues. This allows them to identify any potential oral health issues at an early stage. Early detection means earlier intervention, which can help prevent more serious problems and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment.
  4. Fresh breath: Poor oral hygiene can result in persistent bad breath (halitosis) due to bacteria buildup in the mouth. Dental cleanings eliminate the plaque and bacteria responsible for unpleasant odours, leaving you with fresher breath.
  5. Overall health benefits: Good oral health is strongly linked to overall health. Poor oral hygiene and untreated oral health problems can contribute to various systemic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory infections, and complications during pregnancy. Regular dental cleanings help maintain oral health, reducing the risk of these associated systemic health issues.

In conclusion, regular dental cleanings are essential for good oral health as they prevent plaque and tartar buildup, reduce the risk of gum disease, enable early detection of oral health problems, promote fresh breath, aid in the identification of oral cancer, and contribute to overall health and well-being.



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