Preventative care is key with oral health and it all starts with regular checkups. Depending on your age, existing conditions and care plan, you need a routine checkup annually or bi-annually. The most important reasons for checkups include:
- Checking for problems that might not be apparent to the patient
- Spotting early decay signs
- Cleaning plaque build-up
- Identifying any restorations that may have cracked or chipped
- Treating oral health issues
What can you expect at the checkup? It can vary from dentist to dentist, and patient to patient, but here’s what a basic checkup looks like in practice with an on-site dental hygienist.
A Team of Professionals
At Parkway Dental, patients meet with both a dentist and dental hygienist. The hygienist undertakes an cleaning of your teeth and gums, making note of any changes, and will conduct the X-rays, cleaning, polishing and fluoride treatment if applicable. . The dental professional can help you hone your oral health skills as well.
Nothing compares to an in-office cleaning, no matter how diligent you are at home or how high tech your toothbrush might be. A professional cleaning can remove even the toughest plaque. Sometimes a “scaling and root planing” is in order if gum disease is present or plaque is exceptionally built up—this is a more in depth cleaning.
A polishing takes place after a cleaning to remove any lingering plaque or stains. Today, most polishes contain fluoride. During this time, the hygienist may go over best practices for home care, such as flossing techniques or brushing angles.
The dentist will provide recommendations for next steps if problems are found. This can include a referral to specialists like a periodontal dentist or oral surgeon. During your visit, dentists are charged with diagnostics and more in-depth cleanings if necessary.
What to Expect
Patients should come armed with their medical history and current medications. Dentists need to know about all concerns beyond the mouth. Diabetes, for example, is strongly linked to periodontal disease. This information is crucial when developing a dental health plan with your dentist and hygienist.
Some patients get a “comprehensive exam” which goes beyond gum health and tooth decay and looks at the whole mouth, neck and head area. This is most common for first-time patients, but is a good idea for any visit. These exams can include checking for tenderness in the head, neck or lymph nodes, assessing soft tissue including the lips, tongue and cheek, and looking at occlusion (how your bite fits together).
Have dental fears? Let your dentist know—there have been many advances in dental technology in recent years, maximizing comfort for the patient.