Teeth Cleaning (Prophylaxis)
This routine procedure is actually the backbone of great oral health. It is analogous to the regular maintenance we provide for almost anything we own: cars, homes and even computers. This visit allows the hygienist to clean under the gum line where the toothbrush cannot reach and to access and monitor the health of the gums and the teeth.
Benefits of prophylaxis may include:
Tartar removal – Tartar (calculus) and plaque buildup, above and below the gum line, can cause serious periodontal problems if left untreated. Even when using the best brushing and flossing homecare techniques, it can be impossible to remove debris, bacteria and deposits from gum pockets.
Aesthetics – Prophylaxis can rid the teeth of unsightly stains caused by coffee, tea, red wine and other highly pigmented food and drink.
Fresher Breath – Periodontal disease is often signified by persistent bad breath (halitosis). The removal of plaque, tartar and bacteria noticeably improves breath and alleviates irritation.
Identification of Health Issues – Many health problems first present themselves to the dentist or hygienist. Since prophylaxis involves a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity, the dentist is able to screen for oral cancer, evaluate the risk of periodontitis and often spot signs of medical problems like diabetes and kidney problems. Recommendations can also be provided for altering the home care regimen.
In addition to the meticulous cleaning, polishing, and examination of your teeth, we also take the time to help our patients develop proper oral hygiene habits at home. We will evaluate your hygiene techniques and make adjustments to your routine as needed. We will also make suggestions for preventative measures such as dental sealants or nightguards to protect against grinding or clenching and TMJ dysfunction.
Fluoride is a medicine applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth to make them more resistant to decay. It is also used to help desensitize adult teeth around the gum line. For patients with decay prone teeth, a high concentration fluoride toothpaste or rinse can be prescribed.
Sealants are thin plastic coverings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of back teeth. They are typically applied to the teeth of children. Sealants have been shown to be highly effective at preventing cavities on these chewing surfaces.
Oral Cancer Screenings
During a dental exam, the doctor and hygienist will check your neck and oral tissues for lumps, red or white patches or recurring sore areas. Screening for early changes in the oral tissue can help detect cancer at a stage when it can be more successfully treated.
Smoking, especially combined with heavy alcohol consumption, is the primary risk factor for oral cancer. Other lifestyle and environmental factors also may increase your risk of developing oral cancer.