Dental Exam: Examining the Possibilities
Dental Cleanings for a Lifetime of Dental and Periodontal Health
The Panoramic X-ray
Professional dental exams and dental cleanings are to your teeth what tune ups are to your car. You get things checked out, cleaned up and tweaked for better performance. If all's not well, you'll be clued into problems you probably had no idea about or thought would never happen to you. But just like it's easy to tune out a tune up, it's also easy to delay a teeth cleaning. However, if you postpone, be prepared: Without regular dental cleanings, you can bet that a film will build up on your teeth that even the most vigorous brushing won't remove. In fact, that film is actually plaque — bacteria that creeps into crevices and cusps, eventually causing cavities and gum disease. With a dental teeth cleaning, your dentist can hang up plaque and save you money in the long run. And did you know? A dentist can detect signs of up to 120 other diseases during a routine dental exam -- which usually precedes a dental cleaning.
Q: What can I expect from a teeth cleaning?
A: A regular dental cleaning typically follows a routine dental exam. If your teeth are in good shape, you may get the dental teeth cleaning on the same day as your exam. But if it's been a while since you've seen a dentist or your dentist finds excessive amounts of plaque and tartar on your teeth, you may need to schedule a dental cleaning for another day. Don't be surprised if a dental hygienist, rather than your dentist, performs your scheduled dental cleaning. Dental hygienists are trained professionals in dental cleanings (among other things), so you're in good hands. Using a scaler, your hygienist or dentist will scrape away hard and soft deposits from your teeth.
Q: I was told I need a "deep" teeth cleaning. What is that?
A: A deep dental cleaning (aka debridement ) is recommended when heavy deposits of dental plaque and dental tartar have built up on your teeth. This typically happens to patients who haven't been to the dentist in several years. The goal of a deep dental teeth cleaning is to remove these heavy deposits so that your dentist can clearly see your teeth and properly assess the health of both your teeth and gums. Using a combination of ultrasonic scalers and hand instruments, the deposits are removed. If large pockets have formed between your teeth and gums, a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) may be necessary to get your gums healthy again.
Q: What's the difference between a prophylaxis and a teeth cleaning?
A: Actually, they're the same thing. Prophylaxis, or prophy for short, is the clinical term for a teeth cleaning.