Keeping your teeth healthy is an essential part of seeing to your overall health. When your teeth begin to decay, then your overall health can also be affected. This is especially true if you develop periodontal disease, an abscessed tooth or an infection inside your mouth. All these types of conditions are oftentimes accompanied by other medical symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, shakes, hot and cold sweats and various other side effects. In some cases, dental issues can lead to the development of even more serious medical issues. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that you undergo a dental exam and cleaning at least once a year.
What is a Dental Exam and Cleaning?
A dental exam is a thorough examination of the state of your teeth and gums. In addition to checking your teeth and gums, though, a dental exam also involves evaluating your risk for developing other oral health issues, and the dentist will also check your face, neck and mouth are also evaluated for any issues. Following the dental exam, the dentist usually conducts the dental cleaning, which is merely a professional cleaning of your teeth. Sometimes dentists might also take a few X-rays during your dental exam as well as an impression of your teeth. Dentists usually also take some time during the dental exam to educate patients on the proper way to brush and floss their teeth as well as to discuss good oral and eating habits with them.
How to Prepare for a Dental Exam and Cleaning
If you don’t already have a family dentist, then you might want to seek out recommendations from family members, friends and coworkers. Make sure that you understand all the fees and costs involved with getting a dental exam and cleaning from the dentist that you choose to go to, and also inquire of the types of insurance the office accepts beforehand if you have dental coverage. If you harbor any dental fears or phobias, it might be advantageous for you to discuss this with the dentist prior to your appointment since dentists can oftentimes come up with ways to accommodate your sensitivity and make you feel more comfortable throughout the dental exam and cleaning process. Also, although it’s not required, it’s still a good idea to brush your teeth prior to your dental exam and cleaning. While you’ll be receiving a thorough professional cleaning, having your teeth as clean as possible before your exam reflects well on your oral habits. However, if you’ve come straight from work and didn’t have time to brush your teeth, don’t worry because your dentist won’t judge you for that.
How a Dental Exam and Cleaning is Conducted
During a dental exam, the dentist will usually use a metal tool along with a tiny, angled mirror to look inside your mouth so that he or she can properly exam your teeth and gums. The dentist will check for any swelling or redness along the gum line, and he or she will also measure the depth of your gingival pockets. The dentist will also test how your teeth come together by asking you to bite down and then by examining the alignment of your teeth.
During the dental cleaning process, the dentist will use a small tool known as a scaler to scrape tartar off your teeth both above and below the gum line. Although this dental instrument has a blade-like end and might look intimidated, the scraping process is relatively painless. The dentist will then use an ultrasonic device that vibrates to clean the surface area of the tooth. This vibrating device loosens the plaque and tartar that’s accumulated on the surface of the tooth, and once it’s loosened, then a tool that ejects a stream of water is used to spray the plaque and tartar off the tooth. A suction tool is usually used as well to suck up the water as it rinses the plaque and tartar from the tooth so that you don’t end up swallowing it. The cleaning process is then completed by the dentist applying a slightly abrasive paste to the teeth to polish them.
Colgate. “How often should you go to the dentist?” Retrieved on June 13, 2016, from http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/article/how-often-should-you-go-to-the-dentist.
American Dental Association. “American Dental Association statement on regular dental visits.” Retrieved on June 13, 2016, from http://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2013-archive/june/american-dental-association-statement-on-regular-dental-visits.
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