General dentistry is the backbone of your oral health. No matter the care you give your teeth at home, you need the support and advice of a dental professional to ensure your well-being. Only a dentist is able to spot the first signs of problems, and take action to treat them as soon as possible. Most patients should see their dentist every six months to prevent cavities, gum disease and other conditions, although those in high risk categories may benefit from more frequent exams. Ask Dr. de Jongh about the exam schedule that is right for you.
Dental Exams & Teeth Cleanings
A standard dental exam consists of the following steps:
- X-rays – X-rays show cavities that are developing in visually inaccessible spots, like between the teeth or at the tooth roots. These images also illustrate potential problems with molars, the jaw, or other areas of your lower face. We take digital x-rays for their wide range of patient benefits (more information below).
- Visual examination – We’ll look through your mouth to verify that everything looks healthy. While some problems need to be identified with the aid of x-rays, others are visible to the naked eye. A visual examination will bring signs of decay, periodontal disease, and any tissue abnormalities to our attention.
- Teeth cleaning – During a cleaning, one of our hygienists will use a scaler to remove plaque and bacteria from your teeth. This prevents plaque buildup to keep your mouth clean.
- Conversation about your oral health – After your exam, Dr. de Jongh will talk to you about how you’ve been doing with your oral hygiene, and any changes or products he would recommend. This discussion will help you move forward in the right direction.
Digital X Rays
Our team uses digital radiography in dental exams and treatment planning. Digital x-rays offer our patients unique benefits –
- Reduced radiation – Digital x-rays require less patient exposure to radiation. This allows patients to have x-rays taken more frequently, offers patients long-term health benefits, and takes some stress out of the diagnostic process.
- Immediate availability – Traditional x-rays need to be developed before the images are available. Digital x-rays are immediately available to Dr. de Jongh, streamlining your treatment planning.
- Lack of a physical file – Standard x-rays must be stored physically, adding to office paperwork and consuming resources. Digital files are more securely stored and do not take up space or film.
- Easy sharing and enhancement – Digital x-rays are more accessible to both patients and other dental professionals who may be involved in complex treatment cases. We can easily enhance areas of the x-rays to illustrate points of treatment to patients, and this simplifies the planning process. We’re also able to digitally send images for referrals and insurance claims.
Your teeth are constantly losing and gaining minerals through demineralization and remineralization. Acids created by bacteria responding to sugars in the mouth erode minerals from your tooth surfaces, and helpful foods and liquids redeposit minerals (fluoride, calcium, phosphate) to those surfaces. Too much demineralization will lead to enamel loss and decay.
Professional fluoride treatments deposit significant amounts of fluoride on tooth surfaces, helping those teeth resist acids and combating decay. This is crucial for children, as teeth are developing until the age of six and early fluoride will build strong natural enamel. Ingested fluoride aids teeth until the final permanent tooth has erupted – about age sixteen. But adults benefit from topical fluoride throughout their lives.
The most efficient way to apply extra fluoride is via prescription and over-the-counter fluoridated dental products. Ask Dr. de Jongh about a toothpaste and mouth rinse that would be right for your teeth. We also offer in-office fluoride treatment that exposes teeth to a more concentrated form of fluoride.
Fluoride is especially important for patients with the following conditions:
- Dry mouth or dry mouth-inducing medications/illnesses
- Gum disease / Gingivitis
- Dental history of frequent decay
- Braces, dentures, or bridges (bacteria are easily trapped between teeth and restorative work)
Your teeth contain natural weapons they use in the fight against wear and decay – enamel, calcium – but sometimes they need a little extra help. There are areas of our teeth that are susceptible to decay and that a toothbrush can’t quite reach, namely the tiny pits and fissures on the surfaces of our bicuspids and molars. One solution is dental sealants, resins bonded into the grooves of chewing surfaces of teeth to prevent decay in inaccessible spots.
Dental sealants create smooth chewing surfaces that resist bacteria and plaque. It’s more difficult for the bacteria to stick to smoother tooth surfaces, and easier for you to brush away the remainder. Sealants are especially important for children, as they typically can’t brush their back teeth as well and their developing teeth are likelier to decay.
Maintaining regular exams is the best way to keep serious problems at bay. If it’s been some time since your last exam, there’s never a better time to schedule. You won’t be met with judgement – simply with excellent care. Book your appointment today.