Even with a good oral hygiene routine, most people will experience tooth decay or gum disease at some point in their lives. However, there are certain steps you can take to reduce your chances. At Aspen Family Dentistry, we recommend a professional cleaning and checkup exam about every six months. This, of course, is just a rule of thumb. Patients at a greater risk for dental diseases may need to schedule more frequent appointments. Those with pristine oral health may need less professional treatment.
Professional cleaning is an important part of your oral health. The biggest threat to your teeth and gums is the harmful bacteria found in plaque. Plaque is a thin biofilm that constantly forms on and around your teeth. If plaque is allowed to build up, it will eventually calcify into a substance called tartar, which is much more difficult to remove. During your professional cleaning, our dental hygienist will remove all instances of plaque and tartar from the surfaces of your teeth. Once your teeth are clean, we will apply polish to restore the sheen of your smile.
In many cases, tartar can only be removed during a professional cleaning. We may use a tool known as an ultrasonic scaler, which is much safer and more effective than traditional hand tools. The ultrasonic scaler produces microscopic bubbles that implode on the surface of the enamel. The bubbles break up plaque and tartar deposits without damaging healthy enamel. They also kill off any remaining bacteria.
During your routine appointment, we will perform a comprehensive examination of teeth, gums, and other oral tissues. Besides a physical and visual exam, we may also utilize diagnostic tools such as x-rays and CBCT scans. Thanks to technological advancements, professional dentistry is largely preventative these days.
Tooth decay and gum disease are preventable with good oral hygiene, professional cleanings, and regular exams. An exam allows us to prevent or catch minor problems before they develop into major complications. If we do diagnose any problems, we may need to perform a restorative treatment. Your treatment will be less invasive and costly if we catch the problem earlier.
In many instances, we will perform an oral cancer screening during your routine exam. Screening is the best way to reassure you that there are no apparent problems related to oral cancer. We may recommend an oral cancer screening in response to your lifestyle choices, such as excessive drinking or smoking. Most of the time it is simply a precautionary measure.
More often than not, an oral cancer screening is a great opportunity for you to ask questions, and reduce your risk factors. If we notice any potential symptoms of oral cancer, we may recommend further testing or a biopsy. It is important to note that additional testing is not indicative of a cancer diagnosis. Additional testing is needed to reveal the root cause of a particular symptom. If cancer is ultimately found, early diagnosis drastically reduces related health problems later down the line.