Your first visit to a dentist will usually involve a comprehensive dental exam that will help him or her evaluate the overall state of your oral health. On succeeding visits, a dentist and dental hygienists will perform the following for a more thorough assessment:
- Diagnostic radiographs (x-rays) vital to the detection of decay, cysts, tumors and bone loss as well as determination of tooth and root positions
- Oral cancer screening to check for possible symptoms on the face, neck, throat, lips, tongue, gums and other mouth tissues
- Gum disease evaluation to check for possible symptoms of periodontal disease on gums and jawbone
- Examination of all tooth surfaces using special dental instruments to check for signs and symptoms of tooth decay
- Inspection of existing tooth restorations such as fillings, crowns, and the like
Professional Dental Cleaning
A Registered Dental Hygienist usually performs dental prophylaxis or professional dental cleaning. The treatment involves an initial dental examination and the following step-by-step procedures:
- Plaque Removal: Plaque is a sticky, translucent film comprising a mixture of saliva, food debris and living bacteria which forms on the teeth. Bacteria in the mouth produce toxins which can inflame and infect the gums leading to periodontal disease.
- Calculus Removal: Calculus or tartar is plaque that has hardened and attached to the tooth surface and the areas above and below the gum line. Special dental instruments are needed to remove calculus.
- Polishing of the Teeth: This final step eradicates teeth stains and remaining plaque not otherwise removed by brushing and scaling.
Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are essential to preserving tooth and gum health. It is recommended that you see a dentist and get professional cleaning every six months.