Dental Cleanings And Regular Check-Ups

Dental Cleanings

To maintain optimal oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends regular dental cleanings and regular check-ups at intervals determined by a dentist. At Belmont Family Dentistry, our doctors, Dr. Aaron Tinkle and Dr. Dana Yoon, recommend dental cleanings and regular check-ups twice a year to promote healthy teeth and gums. For those who have more issues with their teeth and gums (e.g., cavities, tooth loss, gingivitis, or periodontal disease), Dr. Tinkle and Dr. Yoon recommend that you receive dental care more frequently to accommodate your current oral health status and health history.

What are the benefits of routine teeth cleaning?

The benefits of routine teeth cleaning are:

  • Reduces risks of tooth decay and cavities
  • Reduces the risk of gum disease
  • Removes stains
  • Freshens your breath
  • Improves your overall health

Practicing proper oral hygiene at home can also help prevent many of these dental issues.

What is considered proper dental hygiene?

Proper dental hygiene requires following a daily routine that includes

  • Brushing and flossing your teeth in the morning and evening
  • Limiting sugary and starchy snack foods
  • Visiting the dentist regularly for dental cleanings and check-ups

Following such a routine will help to decrease plaque build-up and your risk for developing other dental problems.

How can you improve your dental hygiene?

Follow these tips to improve your dental hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth properly. Check out this video from Mouth Healthy brought to you by the ADA on “How to Brush Your Teeth.”

  • Floss your teeth daily before brushing. If unwaxed floss gets stuck between your teeth, use the waxed kind instead. Flossing is just as important as brushing.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste to protect the enamel on your teeth.
  • Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth to rid your mouth of bacteria.
  • Use an oral irrigator for cleaning between your teeth.

Most importantly, don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth. Make dental hygiene practices a part of your bedtime routine.

What is the difference between plaque and tartar?

Plaque is the sticky, colorless film that forms on your teeth. If plaque is not removed with regular brushing and flossing, it hardens to create calculus (tartar). Calculus cannot be removed with a toothbrush and will require a dental professional to remove it during an oral cleaning.

Is it beneficial to brush your gums?

It is beneficial to brush over your gums gently with a soft bristle toothbrush to remove any plaque build-up. However, avoid brushing your gums roughly, as this will cause them to bleed and may lead to receding gums and sensitive teeth.

Why are regular dental check-ups important?

You should have regular dental check-ups every 6 months so your doctor can see if there are any changes to your oral health. If any dental issues are discovered, your doctor can treat the condition before it gets worse.

Plus, sometimes during these visits your doctor may pick up on other medical issues you may have. For example, there is a strong correlation between periodontal disease and diabetes. Diabetes is a systemic disease, meaning that it can affect all major systems in your body — even your teeth. If your oral exam shows the beginnings of periodontal disease, you may want to visit your primary care provider for further assessment and diagnosis.

What can you expect as part of your dental check-up?

As part of your dental check-up, you can expect your doctor to ask you about your medical and dental history and follow up with a dental exam.

Medical History
Your medical history is an important part of assessing your risk of developing oral health conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease or oral cancer. As such, your doctor may ask you questions related to your lifestyles, such as dietary habits, smoking, alcohol intake, brushing, or your past history with dental diseases.

Examination
After your teeth are cleaned, your doctor will conduct a thorough examination of your oral mucosa, teeth, gums, the top and bottom of your mouth, and your neck to look for any signs of infection, cavities or cancer. If you have any dental problems, your doctor will recommend the appropriate course of treatment.

Digital X-Rays.
Usually, x-rays are ordered once a year as part of your routine annual dental check-up. These images help your doctor see if there are any changes to your teeth and underlying bone over time. For new patients, digital x-rays will be taken of your teeth to establish a new patient file and treatment plan. X-rays may also be ordered for patients who are complaining of toothaches or other dental problems.

Oral Cancer Screening
The goal of an oral cancer screening is to identify mouth cancer early when there is a greater chance for a cure. Your doctor will perform an examination of your lips and mouth, looking for any areas of irritation such as sores and white patches (leukoplakia). If there is any suspicious looking tissue, your doctor will refer you to the appropriate medical provider.

Bite Assessment
A bite assessment or occlusal exam is done to check for bite problems (e.g., underbite, overbite, crossbite, etc.). A bad bite may result in conditions such as loose teeth, excessive tooth wear, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (jaw joint pain).

What are some signs you should have a dental check-up?

Aside from your regular dental check-ups, you should also see your doctor if

  • Your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold.
  • Your gums are puffy and/or they bleed when you brush or floss.
  • You having fillings, crowns, dental implants, dentures, etc.
  • You don’t like the way your smile or teeth look.
  • You have persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You have pain or swelling in your mouth, face or neck.
  • You have difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • You have a family history of gum disease or tooth decay.
  • You have a medical condition, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, eating disorders or are HIV positive.
  • Your mouth is often dry.
  • You smoke or use other tobacco products.
  • You are undergoing medical treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy or hormone replacement therapy.
  • Your jaw sometimes pops or is painful when opening and closing, chewing or when you first wake up; you have an uneven bite.
  • You have a spot or sore that doesn’t look or feel right in your mouth and it isn’t going away.

What if you haven’t had a dental check-up in a long time?

At Belmont Family Dentistry, we understand that some patients haven’t had a dental check-up in a long time, and as a result, they are wary about calling to schedule an appointment. Don’t be anxious about calling us. We are not here to judge you or admonish you. We are here to help restore your oral health.

Call Belmont Family Dentistry at (503) 234-1218 to schedule your dental cleanings and regular check-ups.