Preventive Care and Dental Cleanings
Regular dental cleanings and exams are an important part of your oral health care regimen. Dental cleanings, or prophys, are normally performed by a dental hygienist in the dental office. The purpose of dental cleanings is to remove the plaque, calculus, tartar and stain that is not removed by regular brushing and flossing at home. Plaque is a sticky biofilm that forms on teeth, composed of bacteria and other material. When plaque is not removed, it will harden to form calculus or tartar and can no longer be removed with a toothbrush or floss. Left untreated, this buildup of bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums, bleeding, bad breath, cavities, and gum diseases including periodontitis. During your cleaning, the dental hygienist will remove this bacteria with special dental instruments like a scaler or a cavitron. Your hygienist will also polish your teeth to remove remaining stain.
As part of your preventive care appointment, we also complete a full exam in order to evaluate your oral health. Your exam will consist of a review of your general health, an oral cancer screening, evaluation of your jaw and muscles, periodontal check and a cavity check. We will examine your existing restorations and take any xrays that may be needed in order to evaluate your oral cavity.
Xrays or radiographs are a diagnostic tool that allows us to see cavities between the teeth, infections, certain tumors and cysts, developmental and root abnormalities. At Bowers and Oki Family Dentistry, we use digital radiographs which allow us to see images quicker with much less radiation exposure to the patient. The need for dental xrays varies for each person based on their risk factors, such as oral hygiene, diet, and history of oral disease.
Fluoride is often offered to children and patients at high risk for cavities as a part of preventive care. Fluoride helps to inhibit the formation of cavities and can remineralize teeth that are weakened and starting to form cavities.
During your visit, your dental hygienist will also review your home care and provide suggestions on how to better manage your oral health at home. We will answer questions you have about recommended treatment and assist you with any new goals you may want to achieve.