Did you know that you should visit your dentist every six months? According to the American Dental Association, you should see your dentist twice a year for your dental cleaning & consultation. These semi-annual visits can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, as well as reduce the risk of other dental issues. Although these appointments may seem insignificant to you, there are many valuable things your dentist does during your dental cleaning & consultation. Here are seven things that happen during a dental cleaning & consultation:
1. Performs Dental X-Rays
Dental x-rays are an important diagnostic tool that your dentist uses to evaluate your jawbones and teeth. They can be used to detect cavities that are not immediately visible, as well as to identify impacted wisdom teeth. To take dental x-rays, you will be asked to bite down on a plastic piece and hold still. They only take a few minutes and emit very little radiation.
2. Checks Teeth for Signs of Decay or Damage
Your dentist will also check your teeth for signs of decay or damage. In most cases, they can determine decayed tissue by simply looking, but they may also use a dental probe to explore the area and determine the extent of the decay. They may also gently tap on your teeth to determine if there is any sensitivity or pain present. Your dentist will also evaluate your teeth for signs of cracks, chips, or premature wear.
3. Checks Gums for Signs of Gum Disease
Your gums will also be examined for signs of gum disease. These can include swelling, redness, or bleeding. Your dentist may also measure the depth of your gum pockets to check for signs of gum recession.
4. Discusses Your Medical History
Part of your dental consultation will include a discussion of your medical history and list of current medications. This is because your oral health is closely related to your overall health. In some cases, certain health conditions and medications can impact your oral health and vice versa. It is important for your dentist to be aware of these things so that they can treat you appropriately.
5. Performs Oral Cancer Screening
Unfortunately, oral cancer is on the rise. Because of this, many dentists perform screenings during dental exams to detect early symptoms. That being said, your dentist will examine your lips, cheeks, hard and soft palate, gums, tongue, inner cheeks, and salivary glands for inconsistencies in color or texture.
6. Removes Excess Plaque & Tartar
During your dental cleaning, special tools will be used to remove excess plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth. Your teeth may also be brushed with a gritty mixture to remove any small debris. Finally, they will flossed and rinsed.
7. Fluoride Treatment
After your teeth are cleaned, a fluoride polish or rinse is used to apply fluoride to your teeth. Fluoride has many benefits and has been known to strengthen the enamel. Applying fluoride decreases the risk of future tooth decay and makes it harder for bacteria to attach to your teeth. For more information, see “Fluoride and Decay Prevention”.
As you can see, there are many valuable things your dentist does at your dental cleaning & consultation. Regularly examining your teeth and gums helps to detect possible problems, while dental x-rays help to evaluate your bone health. Discussing your medical history allows your dentist to provide you with the best treatment plan. Finally, dental cleanings and fluoride treatments help to preserve your tooth enamel and oral health.
Dr. Paul H. Kim obtained his dental doctoral degree at the UCLA School of Dentistry in 2002. Upon graduation, he worked at a multi-specialty dental office in Los Angeles as an associate doctor until he opened his own dental practice in 2005. He has taught at UCLA Dental School as a clinical instructor. He has post-graduate training in implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics and sedation dentistry. He is an active member of several dental organizations, and he is currently teaching other doctors to provide quality dental services to their patients. He is passionate about helping people achieve great and confident smiles and good oral health.