Maintaining a healthy smile requires more than brushing and flossing alone. Regular dental exams and cleanings are an integral part of every oral health routine. General dentistry treatments, like dental exams and cleanings, can catch dental damage before it becomes severe, protecting your oral health. Learn more about the importance of dental exams and cleanings in this overview from our Mountain View, CA dentist, Dr. John Van.
What to Expect During a Dental Exam and Cleaning
Dental exams and cleanings are a simple way to help keep oral health in check. They should be performed every six months. Dental exams are generally painless and are used to check the teeth, gums, and oral tissues for any signs of damage or areas of concern. During a typical dental exam, the gums are checked for gum disease and the teeth are checked for signs of decay, fractures, or other damage. Dental crowns, porcelain veneers, dental fillings, or any other restorations, are also checked to ensure they’re functioning properly. X-rays may be taken to examine the structures below the gums, like the tooth roots and jawbone. If any issues are detected during the dental exam, a treatment plan will be devised to restore oral health during a follow-up appointment.
Dental cleanings are performed during the same appointment as a dental exam and may be performed before or after the exam. During a dental cleaning, a metal scraping tool and water pick are used to gently scrape away plaque, tartar, and debris from the teeth. Special care is taken to clean trouble areas, like the gum line and back teeth. Next, the teeth will be flossed and polished to complete the cleaning.
Dental Exams and Cleanings Help Protect Oral Health
Although practicing proper oral hygiene at home plays a key role in protecting oral health, it can leave harmful plaque and tartar in hard to reach areas and allow dental damage to go undetected. Dental exams can catch signs of damage early, preventing dental issues from becoming severe oral health problems, while professional dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar build up at-home cleanings leave behind. Dental exams and cleanings should not be skipped because they prevent oral health issues, such as:
- Gum disease: Professional cleanings keep the teeth free of plaque and tartar build up, and when combined with good at-home oral hygiene, greatly reduces the risk of gum disease.
- Enamel erosion and tooth decay: Dental exams and cleanings help protect the teeth from the damage of enamel erosion and tooth decay through the detection and removal of plaque and tartar build up.
- Tooth loss: Tooth loss has a number of causes, including gum disease and tooth decay. Dental exams can catch problems before they become severe enough to lead to tooth loss.
- Oral cancer: Dental exams are beneficial in catching oral tissue abnormalities, which may indicate cancer. Catching oral cancer early can be lifesaving.
Dental Care between Exams and Cleanings
Dental exams and cleanings are important to maintaining a healthy smile but are not a substitute for practicing good dental habits.
- Brush at least twice a day
- Floss at least once a day
- Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash
- Avoid sugary, acidic foods and drinks to reduce tooth decay
Schedule Your Next Dental Exam and Cleaning
Protect your smile from dental damage. Schedule your next dental exam and cleaning with Dr. Van.