General Dentistry – Teeth Cleaning & Dental X-Rays
A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by your dentist at your initial dental visit. At regular check-up exams, your dentist and hygienist will include the following:
Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
Oral cancer screening
Check face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, and gums for signs of oral cancer.
Gum disease evaluation
Check the gums and bone around teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
Exam of existing restorations
Check condition of fillings, crowns, and other cosmetic restorations
Exam of tooth decay
All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
Professional Teeth Cleaning
A professional teeth cleaning (dental prophylaxis) is the first step towards oral hygiene.
Teeth cleanings are performed by Registered Dental Hygienist and your appointment will include the following:
Removal of calculus
Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
Removal of plaque
Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins that inflame the gums which is the start of periodontal disease!
Final step in overall oral hygiene is professional teeth polishing to remove stain and plaque above the gum line that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling. An added benefit is it brightens your smile.
Are dental x-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment. You might call them “green x-rays”!
Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, dentists still take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those x-rays that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.
How often should x-rays be taken?
The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based upon the review of your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.
A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.
Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays. This technique uses computerized electronic sensors (instead of dental x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged helping the dentist and dental hygienist detect problems easier. Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.
Dental x-rays are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage may save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!
Dental x-rays may reveal:
- Abscesses or cysts
- Bone loss
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
- Decay between the teeth
- Developmental abnormalities
- Poor tooth and root positions
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line
- Condition of existing restorations