Visiting a dentist at least every 6 months for a teeth cleaning and exam is the best way to 1) prevent plaque and tartar buildup; 2) ward off further damage such as tooth decay or gum disease; 3) uncover more serious oral conditions; 4) save money and pain by preventing costly procedures such as root canals and extractions; and 5) keep a shiny and healthy smile. Call Bunker Hill Dentistry on 832-834-5281 or book your appointment using our appointment form. Get to know us and put your dental health in safe hands with Bunker Hill Dentistry. Dr. Le and his wife and office manager Ann Le Lobby View How Often Should You Schedule a Dental Cleaning and Exam? The time to visit the dentist is not when you’re in pain with a toothache or when you have a mouth injury—it’s when you’re healthy. At a minimum, you should schedule a dental cleaning and exam every six months. This schedule of preventative care helps keep your teeth looking great while helping reduce the chance of serious diseases such as cancer, gum disease, decay, and more. If you have greater dental issues or are experiencing discomfort on a regular basis, you might need to come in a little more often for further monitoring. What Is Examined During a Routine Dental Checkup? During a routine dental checkup, Dr. Le will examine the teeth, gums, lips, and jaw for signs of tartar, decay or damage. He will also review the patient’s overall oral health to determine if there are any symptoms of other health concerns are areas to be worried about in the future. In most cases, this process is relatively painless, but you might experience some very mild discomfort during the exam and cleaning. This is a great time to also ask questions about other oral health concerns you have, such as the need for whitening treatments, aligners, or the removal of wisdom teeth. What is the Dentist Looking For? During a dental exam, the dentist is looking for any indications of tooth decay or infection and visible damage. He or she will also usually screen for signs of disease or even certain types of oral cancer. Since this is usually a preventative appointment, the biggest concern is current care and whether or not certain markers for future dental disease are present. If you’ve neglected brushing and flossing on a regular schedule, the dentist will likely coach you on what habits to start as soon as possible. What Does Preventive Care Help Prevent? Regular preventative dental care can help prevent all sorts of issues including embarrassing bad breath, unsightly surface stains, tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss caused by bacteria in your mouth. By undergoing cleaning a couple of times per year, you can be sure your mouth is clean and healthy for showing the world your smile. What Does the Cleaning Process Include? The cleaning process may also involve scaling and polishing depending on the severity of the plaque buildup and how long it has been since you last visited a dentist. In some cases, the calculus (hardened plaque) will need to be removed with a special set of tools. Scaling Dental scaling is about tackling plaque buildup below the gumline. Patients with early signs of gum disease or receding gums are left exposed to plaque buildup below the gumline because pockets and holes open up between the gums and the tooth, allowing plaque to form at a deeper level. Hence, scaling is sometimes referred to as a deep cleaning. Dentists typically use two instruments to remove plaque from below the gumline: scraping it manually with a dental scaler or curette; or chipping it away with a vibrating ultrasonic scaler. Although the procedure usually causes little discomfort, a local anesthetic is available to those with concerns. Polishing After scaling, teeth are polished to remove surface stains and smooth the surface of the teeth. Polishing is undertaken with either a paste or a jet of pressurized air and water. Polishing paste is placed inside a small rubber cup that applies the paste against the teeth. Air polishing is typically used to remove darker stains and involves spraying fine jets of compressed air, water, and an abrasive agent (most often sodium bicarbonate) onto the teeth. The procedure is painless. What Does a Dental Exam Include? Most dental exams are relatively short and take under an hour to complete. While the appointment varies from one patient to another, there are a few steps that typically happen during all exams. The basic process of a dental exam generally includes the following steps: X-Rays: This is where we look at x-rays of your mouth to determine any root issues, cavities, impacted teeth, or other problems. Gum Disease Screening: A dentist reviews the current state of your gums for signs of gingivitis, receding, redness, swelling, or other symptoms of gum disease. Oral Cancer Screening: During this part of the exam process, the dentist looks at the inside of your mouth and your head and neck areas to determine if there are any signs of a heightened oral cancer risk. Visual Inspection of Tooth Decay: Not all cavities show up on an x-ray, so it is important for dentists to make visual inspections of a patient’s teeth to help determine if there is an issue. Keeping teeth clean and healthy is something everyone of all ages should be concerned with. By seeing a dentist on a regular schedule, you can help prevent future damage, hassle, and costs. Are you ready to protect your oral health? Contact our Bunker Hill Dentistry team today to schedule your dental cleaning and exam appointment. Schedule An Appointment Not been to Bunker Hill Dentistry before? 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