The ADA recommends a dental check up once every six months to maintain oral health. Why are routine dental exams so important? Read on to find out.
Oral health and dental hygiene are very important, not only because they protect your teeth and increase their life, but also because their appearance can have an effect on your confidence.
According to the Australian Dental Association, most Australians tend to visit the dentist at least once every year for regular checkups.
Let’s discuss the processes that are involved in ensuring your dental hygiene. From dental x-rays to dental check ups and clean, along with the approximate dental check up cost, here’s what you should expect.
While going for a dental checkup, there is one person you probably will meet, the dental hygienist. You will be spending most time with them as they take care of routine steps in checkup, like administering fluoride, detailed examination of your mouth for the sign of any diseases, as well as the dental check up and clean. Dental hygienists conduct in-depth analysis of your teeth and medical history, and tailor treatments accordingly.
As discussed earlier, dental hygiene is the process that assures ‘preventive dental care’ so that your teeth stay healthy and avoid any unnecessary dental emergency. However, the most significant step in assuring oral hygiene is your home dental care routine. To make sure your teeth look great, what you do and what the hygienists and dentists prescribe goes hand in hand.
You must be thinking – ‘How can I ensure oral health at home, all by myself?’ Well, it’s as simple as tooth brushing the right way. Tooth brushing is fundamental and significant to hygiene. While it alone cannot completely remove calculus, also called dental plaque or tartar, tooth brushing prevents buildup. Calculus buildup can lead to cavities, toothaches, dental diseases, or in the worst case, even tooth loss over time.
If calculus builds up below your gum line, the bacteria can invade and further lead to serious dental diseases. To avoid this, the areas between teeth and under the gum must be regularly examined and cleaned. This is why you need a proper dental check up from a trained professional.
Your tooth saviors may include a team of two people: a dental hygienist and the dentist. Hygienists perform dental x-rays if needed, perform the task of scraping tartar and calculus deposits, as well as diagnose and identify if there are any changes in the bite. Dental hygienists also conduct deep analysis of bone and determine the administering of nitrous oxide (laughing gas). It helps the patients to relax during more invasive treatments.
Furthermore, your dental hygienist then collaborates with your dentist to provide any treatment needed for tooth decay or gum. Hence, regardless of your age, it is absolutely critical to visit for a dental checkup and clean at least twice in a year.
Discussions about your dental history
When you go for a dental check up, the first thing you will be asked about by your hygienist is the medical history. They will inquire if you are taking any medications prior, have any allergies, a diabetic history or if you’re pregnant. Make sure that you give detailed and accurate information to the staff to ensure quality treatment and avoiding drug interactions that might aggravate any pre-existing condition(s).
You should also discuss any fear and/or anxiety you might experience during the process. Don’t be reluctant to do so because they are trained to put you at ease and make you comfortable. After talking about it and going through your medical history in detail, your hygienist will take you to the second step.
Complete dental examination
After your teeth are clean, and the hygienist has removed the plaque buildup, the next step is to examine your teeth for any further issues. Firstly, they will use a dentist mirror which is a small, metal probe to get a better look at your teeth. The tool helps the hygienist inspect between your gums and teeth.
They will look for swollen gums, inflammation, soft enamel, and mouth sores. After this, they will move on to inspecting periodontal pockets. These are the spaces between the top of your gum line, where your gum tissue and tooth firmly attach. If your teeth are healthy, the depth of the pocket is generally between 1mm to 3mm, while deeper pockets are a sign of gum disease.
Conducting dental x-rays
This is the final step in your initial dental examination. Dental x-rays help a dentist identify any issue that cannot be seen by the naked eye. To accurately perform the x-ray, you will be asked to bite down on a specifically designed plastic, while the x-ray machine will be placed against your cheek. The x-ray will completely reveal your bone structure, roots and jawbone. Following the x-ray, your dentist will have a clear view and will be able to prescribe the next step needed for your dental healthcare.
This is the next step that dental hygienists will proceed with, when they start working on your mouth. Teeth cleaning is a gradual process that starts with scraping off tartar and plaque buildup. Following that, flossing is done to remove any food particles. After this your teeth are polished using slightly abrasive paste to give them a neat and shiny finish.
After the dental hygienist has conducted the above-mentioned procedures, your dentist will recommend you what to do next. Their instructions will cover everything, from your diet to tooth brushing techniques, or other lifestyle habits.
If any complications are observed, they might call you for a return visit and recommend restoration work like filling or crown. For more complex procedures, the dentist might also refer you to a specialist like periodontist, orthodontist, endodontist, or an oral surgeon.
However, at every single stage of the dental check up, you should be mindful of properly conveying your concerns.
Tooth decay, a degenerative oral health condition, happens due to the breakdown of tooth enamel. If you’re experiencing this, you may notice holes in teeth that are commonly referred to as ‘cavities’.
The reasons for tooth decay are bad dietary choices and neglected oral hygiene. The left-behind sugar content and starch on teeth can combine with bacteria that lives in your mouth. This leads to production of acids that cause tooth decay.
If you make a timely visit to the dentist and tooth decay is diagnosed before it reaches the nerve of the tooth, the dentist will simply restore the tooth by removing the decay and substituting it with dental filling to treat it.
If it has already reached the nerve before you see the dentist, you most probably will be recommended a root canal procedure. Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease and everyone is at risk as we have bacteria living in our mouth that can break down enamel and lead to decay.
One of the root causes of this dental condition is that parents are unaware of the significance of baby teeth or primary teeth. Due to lack of awareness, there is a misconception that these teeth are ‘temporary’, and hence may not benefit from regular dental hygiene. On the contrary, the condition of primary teeth determines future dental development.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it necessary to go to a dentist regularly?
One of the leading causes of compromised dental health is because people believe they only need to see a dentist for crisis treatment. However, rather than when a problem arises, one should be more focused on preventive treatment. While dentist visits can be expensive, but remember that dental checkup cost is far less than a full treatment.
You should immediately seek professional help when you notice any abnormality. Tooth decay, in most cases, does not hurt unless it reaches the nerve of the tooth. Regular visits will help you deal with it before it starts hurting because a dentist can detect a cavity before you may even experience any discomfort.
Why do I need to floss when brushing is doing the job just fine?
Flossing is important because it reduces the bacteria that lives inside your mouth. These are microscopic creatures that cannot be seen and feed on food particles in your mouth.
The bacteria, which can lead to a number of dental complications in the longer run, lives on plaque and can only be removed by flossing. In other words, flossing takes care of the bacteria that brushing may not be able to remove completely.
Why do dentists conduct an x-ray?
Dental x-rays help the professional detect diseases that are not noticeable. Dentists recommended an x-ray as it may help reveal:
A regular dental check up can help save time, money and future discomfort. You should always prioritise your oral and dental hygiene to not only lead a happy and fulfilling life, but also to smile with confidence.