Many patients refer to their regularly scheduled check-up as a "cleaning", but there is much more to it than that! The technical term is oral prophylaxis, which means prevention of oral disease.
Part of the process of preventing oral disease is to remove harmful plaque and tartar (calculus) both above and below the gum line. This visit may also include special instructions on brushing or flossing to keep clean the areas where we found significant buildup. That is the familiar "cleaning" part of your checkup.
Computer Digital Radiography (CDR)
Dental X-rays can now be taken using sensors that transmit the image directly to a computer monitor. These image help the patient understand the dentist's explanations more easily and enables the dentist to "zoom in" on a specific area of the tooth. Another very important advantage to this technology is that it reduces the amount of radiation by 90%.
Why are Dental X-rays Necessary?
X-rays help to identify problems that aren't externally visible. They are essential in the process of doing a complete and thorough dental examination. X-rays are especially important in diagnosing serious conditions early to allow for effective treatment before you experience discomfort. An x-ray shows bone anatomy and density, decay between the teeth or how extensive the decay is, whether an abscess is present, impacted teeth, or if children have permanent teeth.
How Often Do I Need Dental X-rays?
The number and type of X-rays you will need depends on several factors such as age, current dental health, and external signs that may trigger a cause for concern. Typically, x-rays are taken once a year.
The most common area for children (and adults) to get decay is on their permanent back teeth (molars). These molars have very deep grooves and pits (especially deep ones) on the chewing surfaces which makes it easy for food and bacteria to hide and form cavities. No matter how well your child brushes, it is nearly impossible to remove all of the bacteria from these grooves and pits.
Sealants can help prevent decay. Sealants are a white or tooth-shaded material that is bonded to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, effectively sealing off deep grooves and pits. This makes the grooves of the teeth smoother so your toothbrush can more easily keep the tooth clean.
How are sealants applied?
Applying sealants is a very simple procedure. The teeth are first cleaned, then etched with a solution to help the sealant adhere. Next, the sealant is brushed on, then a special light is used to harden the material. It’s a simple procedure for children because there is no need for anesthetic or drilling.
When should my child have sealants applied?
Sealants are recommended for all children when they get their permanent first molars (around 6 years of age) and again when they get their permanent second molars (around 12 years of age).
Does fluoride really make a difference?
In the past, cavities were a fact of life. In recent years, tooth decay has been reduced dramatically due to fluoridated water. Fluoride is beneficial for adults and children. Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities by up to 40% in children and 35% in adults (according to the American Dental Association).
Is fluoride safe?
Yes. Numerous studies over the past 60 years have shown that fluoride at recommended levels is not only safe, but provides significant health benefits (per the American Dental Association).
How does fluoride help children?
Children benefit from fluoride both systemically (by ingesting fluoride), topically (the fluoride that gets on their teeth) and varnish. Systemic and topical fluoride work together to keep teeth strong. Fluoride works best in children while teeth are forming. This helps both primary (baby) and permanent teeth. Starting at birth, and until all permanent teeth have fully erupted, ingested fluoride helps strengthen teeth as they are forming. Topical fluoride helps people of all ages. Fluoride is the only known substance that will actually strengthen teeth and make them harder.
Does my child need fluoride supplements?
Most city water is fluoridated and is an adequate source of systemic (ingested) fluoride. If your primary water source is well water or bottled water, you should have your water tested to see if there is adequate natural fluoride, or if a fluoride supplement is needed. Check with your local health department or bottled water manufacturer for testing. If adequate fluoride is not present, your child may need a prescription fluoride supplement from your dentist.
Topical fluoride is provided by fluoridated toothpastes and rinses. Additional fluoride treatments are applied as needed by your dentist during regular check-ups.
Does fluoride benefit adults?
Yes! Topical fluoride helps people of all ages by stopping the progression of a newly formed cavity and preventing root cavities. Fluoride and varnish are also helpful for patients with sensitive teeth. Regular daily use of topical fluoride may dramatically decrease tooth sensitivity to both hot and cold substances. At your regular check-up, we can evaluate your situation to determine if additional fluoride treatments are needed. Be sure to let us know if you have any concerns in this area!
Gum treatment is the treatment of active gum and jaw bone disease. The goal of this treatment is to slow or stop the progression of the disease. Because there are different stages of gum disease (from gingivitis to advanced periodontitis), there are different levels of treatment. In some cases, the patient may be referred to a specialist.
Gum treatment consists of one or more of the following procedures, depending on the individual case:
Scaling and Root Planing - a common non-surgical treatment for periodontal disease. By using special instruments, we remove bacteria and infection from the unhealthy deep pockets around the teeth below the gum line. This is often referred to as a "deep cleaning".
Sometimes, in order to treat advanced gum disease, surgical procedures are necessary, such as:
- Crown Lengthening
- Pocket Depth Reduction
- Soft Tissue Grafts
- Advanced Medications
Advances in periodontal treatment allow us to place medications directly at the site of infection. One of the most commonly used medications of this kind is Arestin™. This is often used in conjunction with scaling and root planing. In addition, an antimicrobial rinse is sometimes used after some procedures.
A new medication called Periostat® has been developed specifically to combat periodontal infection by bolstering your body's immune response to bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Dr. Derrick will evaluate your specific case to see if Periostat® is right for you.
A home care routine specific to the patient's individual needs can be prepared to prevent the patient from relapsing. It is important that patients adhere to the home care routine that is recommended for them