Prevention & Gum Care
Cleanings & Examinations
Regular cleanings and dental examinations are essential parts of maintaining good dental health and forming a foundation for preventing gum disease and tooth decay. Preventing disease is always better than treating disease.
A professional cleaning at our office includes removing plaque from your teeth, removing calculus (tarter) from above the gum line, and polishing and removing stains from your teeth.
We also perform dental examinations to help diagnose disease before it becomes harmful to your health. Having regular examinations can save you money in the long run by alleviating problems while they are small and before they become costly to repair, or in some cases, impossible to repair. Your dental examination will generally include a gum disease evaluation, an oral cancer screening, and visual examination of tooth decay. We will also do an examination of diagnostic x-rays to look for cysts, tumors, invisible decay, and other problems that can’t be seen by the naked eye. We will also evaluate the status of your current restorations (fillings and others).
At our office, we have the latest in advanced, digital radiography. Dental x-rays (or radiographs) are an essential part of keeping you healthy. Dental x-rays allow us to see things about your oral health that can’t be seen by the naked eye. They allow us to detect invisible decay that occurs between teeth, cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, cysts, and the location of teeth that haven’t completely grown in yet.
When we use an x-ray to diagnose these problems, you can often save money in the long run through preventing surgeries or other treatments that might have become necessary if we didn’t find the problems early on. In some cases, where dental x-rays show the location of tumorous growths, x-rays can save lives.
Digital x-rays have many advantages when compared with old fashioned film-based machines, including that they are environmentally friendly (no toxic chemicals), there is reduced radiation exposure, there is an enhanced ability to refine the image quality, and viewing is instant (no waiting for films to develop).
Because your digital x-ray can be viewed on a computer screen right next to your dental chair, it’s easy for you to see what we see, and it makes it easier for us to discuss the results and your treatment options with you.
Protective sealants are an excellent way to protect chewing surfaces of teeth from decay. Sealants can stop small amounts of decay from growing larger, often preventing the need for fillings or more elaborate, costly dental work.
The chewing surfaces of your back teeth contain normal pits and grooves which can trap food that can’t be removed by brushing or washed out by water or saliva. When food remains trapped there, decay begins to form.
A sealant is a durable, plastic material designed to bond to your tooth enamel. We paint these clear or tooth colored sealants onto your tooth surface, “sealing” the pits and grooves and protecting against decay. They are generally applied to children’s first permanent back teeth. In certain situations, they can be useful for adults as well.
Sealants generally last about five years, but they can wear off or chip off earlier in some cases. Also, sealants don’t prevent the onset of gum disease or decay between teeth, so regular dental visits and home care are important.
Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)
Gum disease (Periodontal Disease) is the reason for approximately 70 percent of adult tooth loss. Plaque, saliva, and bacteria get stuck inside the space between the gum line and the tooth, which causes the gums to become swollen and inflamed. If it is not removed, the plaque will harden into a substance called calculus or tartar. There is bacteria in the tarter and the plaque, and over time, this bacteria will eat away at the fibers that hold the gums to the teeth, creating deep pockets. As the bacteria spreads, the pockets become even deeper until the bacteria eats away the bone holding the tooth in place.
We diagnose gum disease by measuring the depth of the pockets around each of your teeth. Pockets that are greater than 3 millimeters in depth generally require treatment, as that depth or greater is considered hazardous.
To treat gum disease, we carefully remove the bacteria and other substances that form in the deep pockets around your teeth. We remove this material on a microscopic level. Our dental team has advanced training in how to effectively remove all of the bacteria.
This initial process of removing the bacteria usually requires several visits to our office. Once the bacteria has been removed, the pockets must be maintained with regular cleanings. Otherwise, the bacteria will return. Therefore, we’ll place you on a regular appointment schedule called “periodontal maintenance” to keep your pockets free of bacteria.