The professional hygiene appointment has never been appreciated for the true value it holds. The time a patient spends in the hygiene chair is so much more than “just a cleaning”. Along with the doctor, the hygienist is able to detect and evaluate a list of important details that will optimize your oral health.
At our office your appointment starts with a health history update. Yes, your dentist needs to know your health history because your teeth are a part of your body! There are things we might do to your teeth that affect your body and there are things that happen in your body that might affect your teeth. For example, if you have a disease such as diabetes or heart disease you may be at greater risk of gum disease. If you have a weakened immune system, you will likely have a diminished ability to ward off infections and diseases. If you regularly use tobacco or are a heavy drinker, you are at greater risk of oral problems. Taking medications that result in dry mouth – a reduction in saliva production – puts you at higher risk of developing cavities. So please share your health issues and medications with your dentist.
Our dentists prescribe diagnostic X-rays and photos in order to assist with the physical examination of your teeth. X-rays can uncover problems before they start while photos can educate the patient on why treatment is necessary.
Periodontal evaluation is a series of measurements recorded in determining the patient’s gum health. It is the foundation for good oral health. Poor gum health requires a deeper cleaning that reaches below the gum line. Perio readings should be recorded once a year.
The most important part of this appointment is when the data gathered from the above is combined with a physical exam and an evaluation is performed. Our dentists and hygienists perform an oral evaluation at each visit. They screen for oral cancer, soft tissue abnormalities, airway constriction, orthodontic complications, and of course cracked, chipped, loose or decayed teeth. They also provide oral hygiene instructions, nutrition and tobacco counseling and can recommend products or techniques that are patient specific. Without this exam, problems go undetected and emergencies can arise.
As you can see, there are several reasons why dental checkups are so important. Detecting problems early on is crucial for providing effective, minimally invasive, and economical treatment. Using x-rays and other diagnostic tools, we can detect problems early when you may not even be aware of them, especially since tooth decay isn’t usually obvious or painful in the early stages. By the time you do notice problems, the condition is often already advanced. While most of the time you may need to see your dentist and hygienist twice a year, there are circumstances that might require coming in more often, particularly since your oral health is directly related to your overall health and vice versa. You can also let us know if you are noticing signs of tooth sensitivity, pain or an unusual lump. Again, the earlier a problem is addressed, the better the treatment success rate.