Importance of a Regular Dental Check-up
A regular dental check up involves a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and surrounding soft tissues. The aim of having a regular dental check up is to keep your teeth and gums in optimal health & prevent minor problems from becoming major ones.
A dental check- up is usually recommended every six months, though it can be different for every individual, depending on their oral health needs.
A regular check- up will help keep your mouth healthy, In conjunction with a good home-care routine consisting of a good oral hygiene practice as well as a healthy and balanced diet.
What is involved with a dental check up?
A dental checkup starts with taking a thorough history of your general health and your past dental experiences.
It is important that we know about your general health. We need to be aware of your general medical history and background as it may impact what treatment we recommend for you and how we diagnose issues.
For example, diabetes can increase the risk of gum disease and may require more detailed gum care. Whilst certain medications can cause dry mouth which in turn can increase your risk of dental decay & cavities.
The dental checkup appointment is also a good time to discuss any dental phobias or fear of the dentist that patients may have, as a result of bad childhood experiences.
Or to convey to the dentist any past and present dental issues that are of concern to you.
After taking a thorough history, we then start to check your mouth, Beginning by looking at all the oral structures inside your mouth, including the throat, your soft palate, inside of the cheeks lips and mouth.
We then start to examine each tooth individually. We check the teeth for decay and for any cavities. We look for any broken or defective fillings that have been done in the past. We also make note of any plaque and tartar accumulation on the teeth as this can affect the health of the gums. We then start to examine the gums, And note any signs of the presence of gingivitis or gum diseases.
Do I need an x-ray?
Dental x-rays provide much valuable information about the teeth and their underlying supporting structures- including the jaw bone.
X-rays enable us to see underneath any existing fillings and in-between the teeth and under the gums, where we cannot otherwise see, helping us to diagnose any recurrent tooth decay or dental caries (decay/caries that can start underneath existing fillings) as well as new decay/caries.
Dental x-rays can also help us to assess and diagnose any impacted teeth, abscesses or cysts on the roots of your teeth.
What else happens at a checkup appointment?
At a checkup appointment we will usually recommend a scale and polish of the teeth and gums. A scale and polish involves the removal of plaque and tartar buildup, as well as any extrinsic stains.
Tartar and plaque removal is not for cosmetic reasons… in fact it is more to maintain the health of the teeth and gums, and prevent bacterial accumulation which results in inflammation of the gums, which leads to gingivitis and gum diseases. Tartar (also known as dental calculus) is first removed with a special instrument, such as an ultrasonic scaler, that gently dislodges the tartar buildup with ultrasonic vibration.
Once all the tartar has been removed, the teeth are then polished to remove stains with a slow speed handpiece & a soft rubber cup and polishing paste.
At the completion of the scale and polish, we may recommend a fluoride treatment to be done to the teeth. A dentist-in-office fluoride treatment re-mineralises and hardens the dental enamel (the outermost layer of the tooth), making it more acid resistant and hence less prone to dental decay or tooth erosion (acid wear).
Fluoride also restructures and resurfaces the surface of the tooth.
What happens after the dental examination and scale and polish?
After the dental examination and scaling clean of the teeth we then discuss any treatment and recommendations. This can include any restorative work needed to be done of the teeth, such as a filling or tooth build up, as well as any dietary recommendations or alternatives.
We also will explain the best oral hygiene techniques for you to maintain at home, Including teeth brushing and flossing instructions.
The Dental check up appointment is a good time for you to ask all questions to your dentist and alleviate all concerns you may have about your teeth & smile.