Why You Need a Checkup Twice a Year
If you’re like most people — you LOVE that scrubbed-clean look and feel of your teeth after a thorough cleaning. At Artistic Dentistry, our Hygienists utilize a combination of hand tools and an ultrasonic cleaner to scrub away the film or plaque that builds up on teeth and around the gumline. Even if you’re religious about your at-home care, you’ll likely have this film of buildup.
Getting regular cleanings is probably the most economic investment you can make to preserve your teeth. Our aim is to keep your teeth and gums in a clean, healthy condition and monitor signs of gum disease so it can be treated right away to prevent it from advancing.
Cleanings are mainly about preserving gum health. The Center for Disease Control estimates that nearly one-half of all Americans 30 and over have some form of gum disease. As we age we become more susceptible to infection, and gum disease is an infection that, left untreated, can affect overall health. Research has shown that gum disease is linked to heart health and diabetes. Cleaning infected gums at the onset helps prevent the infection from burrowing deeper into the gum tissue. Left untreated, infection eventually causes the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, swell and get red. Not only is this unattractive, but often leads to chronic foul breath. Eventually, the infection begins to eat away at the underlying bone.
As part of your cleaning, we’ll annually measure the depth of gum pockets in order to keep an eye on any gum health before it can cause a problem. This is called “Periocharting.” (“Perio” means “around” and “dontal” means “teeth.”) Your Hygienist will lightly probe each tooth, calling out the measurement of the depth of your gum pockets in millimeters. If your gums go from 6mm to 3mm, that means you’ve taken some effective measures to restore health to your mouth. Maybe you’ve had a deep cleaning followed by at-home rinsing with “Tooth and Gum Tonic.” If your pockets are deeper, you’ll need to employ some pro-active measures to reduce these pocket depths. These might include:
- daily flossing and tongue scraping (do you have a tongue scraper?);
- brushing after every meal;
- using herbal “Tooth and Gum Tonic;”
- deep cleaning of the gums by our Hygienist;
- eliminating sugar.
Some Misconceptions About Cleanings
We really can’t blame our patients for the confusion that abounds about dental cleanings. Many people think if they brush their teeth regularly, they don’t need professional cleanings. Here are some common misconceptions:
“I’ve got bridges and crowns, so I don’t need my teeth cleaned.”
If you’ve got gums – you need a cleaning, since the main purpose is to preserve gum health.
“My teeth are sensitive after a cleaning – maybe they’re not for me.”
Sensitivity is an indication that you definitely need regular cleanings to restore your dental health. Healthy teeth and gums aren’t sensitive when cleaned professionally.
“I just had a cleaning and exam six months ago. I can wait a year in-between.”
Decay and plaque can develop and advance at any time so waiting a year to treat a cavity or gum disease can cost more than the Hygiene visit.
“I brush and floss every day. Why do I need a professional cleaning?”
Regular cleanings get to spots that your hoe health care can’t reach.
If Your Mouth Could Talk: the Dental Exam
It’s not just your gums that tell a story. Teeth, tongue, the inside of the mouth, how the jaw joints come together – these indicate such conditions as:
- night grinding;
- the onset of cavities;
- TMJ; and
- medications that could be causing dryness.
You could say that your teeth, gums and tongue are like indicator lights on a car dashboard. When you get regular exams, any “indicator lights” pointing to infection, decay or other unwanted conditions can be looked into so we can treat any developing condition before it worsens. The old saying that two things in life are inevitable – death and taxes -perhaps should be modified to include: “dental conditions get worse when ignored.”
An exam by any other name… An Orthopedic approach
Our orthopedic approach to the dental exam notes:
- the position of the teeth;
- the function of your teeth and their supporting structures;
- an analysis of how your teeth fit together when you bite down;
- an examination of your chewing and speech; and
- the movement of your jaws and joints and how they impact all of the above.
The road to long lasting dental health begins with a comprehensive dental exam. At Artistic Dentistry, we’re accustomed to new patients exclaiming “That’s the Most Thorough Exam I’ve Ever Had!”
our 7 Part Dental Exam just may be the the most thorough exam you’ve ever had. It consists of:
- Examination of the teeth after they’ve been cleaned. Review your x-rays and discuss with you and your hygienist any findings during your cleaning. Discuss any concerns about your dental health or recommended treatment.
- A Periodontal exam for Gum Condition and Signs of Gum Disease
- Oral Cancer Screening
- TMJ Evaluation (Jaw Joints)
- Orthodontic Screening
Schedule Regular Checkups
We’ve covered pretty thoroughly all the reasons to maintain regular hygiene visits with a thorough, caring provider whose team cares about the health of your mouth. You may realize now that the condition of your teeth and gums is a gauge of the level of systemic inflammation present in your body. Systemic inflammation is the precursor to all disease. That’s why it’s so important to your overall health to make hygiene visits a routine part of your health care.
Lastly, you should know that most dental emergencies in our office occur due to neglect. They typically result in treating a condition that would have been avoided with regular Exams. For example, root canals and extractions are the most common emergency treatments.
We hope you can see the wisdom of having a Cleaning and Exam every six months. For our patients without dental insurance, check out our In-House Dental Plan called “ADDP” – Artistic Dentistry Dental Plan. It makes these twice a year visits very affordable, and even includes a no-charge emergency exam and 10-50% off treatment. There’s no longer any reason not to have excellent dental health!