From parents, teachers, and dentists, you’ve heart it your whole life: Dental exams and cleanings are essential every six months! This is the standard for both kids and adults.
The reason dental exams and cleanings are so important is because these quick, twice-a-year visits can prevent a host of dental – and bodily – health problems. They’re considered preventive dental care, because checkups and periodontal hygiene appointments allow us to find and treat potential concerns and small issues before they escalate into more serious problems. The goal for Dr. Chugg, and our whole team, is to keep your mouth healthy, so you can retain your natural teeth throughout your entire life.
What’s Checked at an Exam?
A checkup, or dental exam, involves taking a close look at your entire mouth, from soft tissues to hard tissues, including gums, tongue, cheeks, lips, teeth, and jaws. If you have experienced any dental or jaw pain, sensitivity, or abnormalities in your oral health since your last visit, please voice your concerns to Dr. Chugg, so he can double check those issues and discuss potential causes.
Dr. Chugg will look at your teeth to determine if you have any cavities, cracks, chips, or loose teeth that need to be addressed. He’ll inspect existing dental work, because dental fillings, dental crowns, and bridges do wear out over time.
An assessment of your soft oral tissues, including a quick look beneath your tongue, allow the doctor to identify any suspicious patches that need to be further evaluated. Dr. Chugg will even examine your head and neck, looking for suspicious lumps indicative of oral and pharyngeal cancers. The doctor may use a small, handheld wand that identifies the cells of oral cancer lesions before they surface on the skin. Finding and treating oral cancers early increases the survival rate by up to 90%.
That’s not the end of the exam, though! Gently manipulating your jaw joints by hand, Dr. Chugg will make sure your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are in proper alignment. He will also look at your bite, or occlusion, meaning how your lower and upper teeth fit together when you close your mouth. Discrepancies in the jaw joints or occlusion can cause headaches, tooth damage, and other painful symptoms.
Every year or two, you will need dental x-rays. These images let the doctor look beneath the skin and bone, so he can find underlying issues that may need treatment. For instance, internal infection, abscesses, hidden decay, jawbone deterioration, teeth roots, and nerves can be seen only on x-rays.
Once the exam is complete, Dr. Chugg will show you what he found on your x-rays and explain any treatment he recommends. You may have perfect oral health, but if not, he’ll tell you why he believes you need specific procedures and what to expect during and after treatment.
What’s Cleaned at a Hygiene Visit?
A dental cleaning, also called a hygiene appointment, is conducted by a dental hygienist. (Ours are awesome, by the way!)
More than 50% of Americans have periodontal disease, or gum disease, ranging from a mild case of gingivitis to serious, advanced periodontitis. The condition is chronic, so there’s no cure for gum disease. There are preventive measures, like checkups and cleanings, to help ward off the disease. We also offer treatment to remove bacteria that cause gum disease, and then procedures to correct any damage the disease left behind.
At your cleaning, the hygienist will probe your gums to measure any loose areas, called pockets, between the gum tissue and teeth. If periodontal pockets are over 3mm deep, you’ll need a deep cleaning, because bacteria have begun to destroy connective tissues. Deep cleanings require a separate appointment, because they take more time and may require a numbing agent, for your comfort. For patients with shallow or no pockets, the regular cleaning will continue.
The hygienist will remove plaque and hardened plaque, which we know as tartar or calculus, from your teeth right at and just below the gum line. She will also polish your teeth to a smooth finish and nice shine, before you leave. Part of the hygienist’s job is to help you learn to floss and brush properly, because a huge part of maintaining healthy gums and teeth has to do with the preventive dental care you perform at home every day. If you have trouble flossing, or don’t floss, or you’d like to know which mouthwash would be best suited for your oral health, just ask.
Keep On Top of Your Oral Health
To schedule your exam and hygiene visit, call Artistic Design Family Dentistry at 480-563-0525. We want to become your partners to fight off cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and oral cancer. Located in Scottsdale, AZ, our dental office serves patients from across the Phoenix area.