Having good oral health is a catalyst for having an enjoyable life. Some people don’t realize the impact that oral health can have. But it’s a pretty big deal.
If you’re a regular around here, then you probably know by now that gum disease impacts your overall health. Gum disease is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer, and even, pre-term births & low birth-weight babies.
Of course, things like daily brushing and flossing limit bacterial growth (aka plaque) and using the proper tools during your home-care routine can improve your oral health. However, seeing our dentist regularly for exams and professional cleanings is crucial for your smile and health to thrive.
You still might be wondering why seeing the dentist is important and what we dental professionals actually do that you can’t.
What Your Dental Team is Doing At Your Routine Dental Cleanings
When you come into our office for your routine visits, our Exceptional Dentistry team has your comfort and care as a top priority.
Our friendly front office team will get you checked in and are ready to offer you a beverage from our beverage bar upon your arrival. At your reservation time, we’ll get you seated in your treatment suite and then you can select an item from our comfort menu.
While you’re relaxing, we’ll go over your medical history with you to ensure that we’re screening for anything that would affect your treatment options. We’ll also take your blood pressure because it is a standard of care for licensed health-care professionals to assess and record blood pressure on all of their patients. We’ll then discuss the meaning with you because it helps you take charge of your overall health.
What Does The Dental Hygienist Do?
Your dental hygienist is assessing the health of your gums and mouth so that you can receive the most beneficial treatments. They not only are looking for visual cues that can be cause for concern (like swollen-red gums, tartar, or cancerous spots), but they will also use special tools to make these assessments and aid them with necessary dental treatments.
Measuring Pocket Depths to Assess Your Gum Health
One of the tools you’ll notice your hygienist using is a probe. This tool looks like a slim metal stick with lines on it. While it might look sharp, you can rest assured that it has a blunt tip. Healthy tissue does not bleed by being touched, so if your gums are bleeding during probing that is usually a cue for the hygienist to be concerned.
The probe allows your hygienist to take the gum pocket measurements. They will check both the cheek-side and tongue-side of every tooth. And every tooth has a front, middle, and back — for a total of 6 pockets on each tooth. The gums should be pink, tight and not bleed when being probed.
After your hygienist gets these measurements, they’ll discuss the meaning with you. When you start to develop greater pocket depths (such as 4mm and up), we know that the biofilm (bad bacteria) has been causing damage.
This tool also allows the hygienist to measure gum recession. While your hygienist may also take a few other different types of measurements, those two measurements need to be taken at least once a year so that we can continue to monitor the health of your gums.
Enhanced Oral Cancer Screening
Another tool that our hygiene team uses is VELscope®. And what it is, is an advanced technology that uses a blue light to more easily see cancerous lesions inside your mouth and throat. If our dental team spots anything that shouldn’t be there, our dentist might recommend a biopsy of the tissue to be checked for cancer.
While oral cancer may seem like a rarity, one person dies every hour in the U.S. due to oral cancer (according to the oral cancer foundation). We typically recommend you getting this at least once a year when you come for your annual evaluation. Of course, if you notice something abnormal you should always notify your dental team.
Early Cavity Detection
The next thing that our hygiene team does is to collect the necessary images for the dentist. One way that the hygiene team gets this information ready is through an intra-oral camera (IOC). IOC’s help us (and you) see the teeth close-up. And in our office, our cameras aren’t your ordinary camera, we’ve got SOPROLIFE intraoral cameras.
The SOPROLIFE bounces fluorescence light off of your teeth’s enamel, which allows for early cavity detection. When we catch a spot early there’s a chance that we can reverse the damage or at least repair it BEFORE it really damages your tooth’s surface, ensuring that your affected tooth is treated quickly and minimizes any major damage/ pain.
The other type of images that the hygiene team prepares for the dentist is the radiographic images.
We take radiographs so that we can see what’s happening between your teeth. This helps us nip developing problems in the bud as soon as possible. The sooner that decay is found, the better off you’ll be as we’ll be able to prevent further damage to your teeth and health.
The Three Kinds of Radiographs
- Traditional: These give us individual, high-definition images of specific areas of your mouth while emitting 98% less radiation than your typical non-digital X-rays — ensuring you and your family’s safety. We recommend these to be taken at least once a year.
- Panoramic : The pano is the more advanced form of the old school FMX. It’s also digital and safe. We recommend having this taken every 3-5 years to give us a full-sized image of your whole mouth. We will be able to see your upper and lower jaws, teeth, jaw joints and even your sinuses to check for any bone loss, abscesses, or abnormalities.
- Galileos (CBCT): These radiographs give us high-definition, 3D images of your mouth and head. They let us see any sinus problems, gum disease, root canal, jaw joint or airway issues. Dr. Powell uses these radiographs for restorative treatments such as precise placement for dental implants.
Our advanced technology makes your visit faster, more comfortable, interactive, and safe by using only using digital radiographs to view highly detailed images of your teeth. This clear, accurate picture of what is going on in your mouth will help our dentist, Dr. James Powell, determine a treatment plan tailored to YOUR needs.
Disrupting and Disturbing Biofilm
After diagnostic services are completed the hygienist will give you the type of teeth cleaning that is going to be the most beneficial for you. While it might seem like the hygienist is “just cleaning your teeth” it’s really a bit more involved — particularly if the current status of your oral health is concerning.
Everyone has biofilm (aka bad bacteria) in their mouths. When you allow that bacteria to sit on your teeth and gums, it causes decay. Brushing and flossing are essential in disrupting those bacterial colonies, and while you probably try to do your best, sometimes that bacteria evade your diligence.
When you come in to see us, our hygienist gets rid of plaque, calculus (hardened plaque your toothbrush can’t remove) by scaling the teeth with either a hand scaler or an ultrasonic scaler. These tools are sharp, but since our hygienist is highly trained you have no need to worry. They will also remove surface tooth stains by polishing the teeth. When your gums are not affected by periodontal disease, then the teeth cleaning will take place above the gum line.
However, once you have periodontal disease the hygienist also helps clean out the infected gum pockets. Sometimes this cleaning is simply maintenance and at other times, if the infection is really bad, the hygienist may recommend initial periodontal therapy (aka a deep cleaning).
Laser Therapy For Better Gum Health
During your visit with the hygienist, they may recommend laser therapy when working on work on soft tissues (gums). Soft tissue dental lasers help kill the bacterial colonies while promoting healing. Therefore, it can also help reduce bleeding.
At least once a year you’ll want to have a full evaluation. Dr. Powell will visually check your teeth and also use all the diagnostic images to ensure that there are no abnormalities and to identify any decay as soon as possible. When you let a cavity get worse it always ends up costing you more in time, money, and pain.
Anti-Cavity and Anti-Sensitivity Treatment
After your teeth have been examined & cleaned, and are free from any bacterial build-up, it’s now the optimum time to strengthen your teeth. While brushing your teeth with a professional-grade fluoride toothpaste (like Fluoridex) can lessen tooth pain, cavities and tooth sensitivity, a professional in-office fluoride treatment is a much stronger concentration. In-office fluoride treatments will help strengthen tooth enamel so it can more effectively keep harmful cavities away and plug the holes that cause painful sensitivity.
Advanced Treatment Options
Aside from completing your routine dental visit, there are a few other services that can be added without significantly extending your time in the chair, but can make a significant difference for your oral health.
Perio Protect Trays makes it so that medication gets deep below the gumline to destroy those bad bacteria nestled in your gums without the need to intervene with surgical procedures. Instead, Perio Protect treats infection while lowering bacteria in the mouth, the most damaging pathogens, by up to 90% to stop gum disease. All you do is wear your customized Perio Trays® as instructed to treat gingival crevices and periodontal pockets.
At your visit we can take impressions so that your trays can be made and picked up in a couple of weeks.
Sensitive Teeth Treatments
If your teeth are sensitive whenever you brush them or eat and drink hot or cold things, this can often hurt, usually because of worn down tooth enamel, exposed tooth roots, cavity, a cracked or chipped tooth, a worn filling and of course, gum disease. To alleviate tooth sensitivity, Dr. Powell may recommend a fluoride toothpaste or fluoride treatment, or an advanced desensitizing or dental bonding resin applied to the sensitive root surfaces.
Additionally, if you grind or clench your teeth while sleeping this can be a reason for tooth sensitivity. Your hygiene team can take an impression and create a custom occlusal guard for you to pick up in a couple of weeks.
To Sum It All Up
As you can see we take our dental cleanings to the next level. We recommend coming in for cleanings and exams at least twice a year (more frequently if you are struggling with progressive gum disease). Our state-of-the-art, cutting-edge exams allow us to spot problems in their early stage of development while they are easiest and least invasively treated. We use ultrasonic scalers, lasers, advanced fluoride treatments, probing and measuring (checking gum recession & pocket depths), tooth polishing paste, and of course, our digital radiographs to assess your oral health and help treat problems early.
Your preventative hygiene visits are designed to help you maintain your healthy beautiful smile for life. We work hard to help you achieve the smile you want and deserve. A routine dental cleaning is actually anything but! If it’s time for your next cleaning, we welcome you to schedule with our Exceptional dental team in Palmdale, California by calling (661) 349-7725 or scheduling a reservation online today!