General Dental Care
The Importance of Dental Exams, X-Rays, and Cleanings
One of the most important aspects of your dental health is taking a proactive and preventative approach. Even those with a strict dental hygiene regime can experience dental challenges. Preventative dental care includes regular dental exams, X-rays, and cleanings to help keep track of your dental health, watch for potential issues, and remove the plaque and tartar that aren’t reached by regular brushing and flossing. Here is why it is so important to maintain a regular schedule for your dental exams, X-rays, and cleaning.
Importance of Dental Exams
Regular dental exams and digital X-rays allow your dentist to gain a complete understanding of your current oral health. Once an exam is complete, we will create a customized treatment plan to address your oral health needs based on signs of dental decay or disease. By seeing the dentist regularly, you can address issues early on, so they do not lead to more painful and costly damage.
How Long Does a Dental Exam Take?
The average dental exam takes range from 15-30 minutes. However, if you have complex dental issues, the appointment can be longer. As well, not every exam requires X-rays, so your appointment can be shorter if those scans are not taken.
Why Do I Need Dental X-rays?
Dental X-rays are taken based on your individual needs. Your dentist will assess your oral health and determine an X-ray schedule for your needs. With the new digital technology, the exposure time is much reduced and the risk of radiation is not as much as a concern as it used to be.
New patients usually require a full series of X-rays or panoramic images as part of the initial assessment. It also provides a point of comparison for future assessments. When you schedule routine checkup visits, fewer X-rays are required.
X-rays enable your dentist to see between and inside your teeth, as well as the tip of your roots and bone underneath your gums. Aside from regular checkups, X-rays are also used to isolate a particular tooth to diagnose issues based on your symptoms. That can include checking for cavities, decay, the presence of cysts, bone loss, and abscesses.
What Are Dental Cleanings?
Dental cleanings allow dental hygienists to remove plaque deposits from the surface of your teeth and along the gum line. Without regular dental cleanings, plaque hardens and transforms into tartar. This yellowish substance discolors the surface of your teeth, causes inflammation of gum tissue, and promotes decay. It can also contribute to the development of gum disease.
Is Dental Cleaning Necessary?
Yes, dental teeth cleanings are necessary to remove plaque. Unfortunately, brushing and flossing alone won’t remove plaque. Your hygienist can remove tartar between teeth to prevent decay and gum disease.
Types of Dental Cleaning
There are many types of dental cleaning. The most common include:
A prophylaxis cleaning is the routine cleaning performed on healthy patients at your regular dental checkups. It removes hardened plaque and surface stains. It can’t be performed on severely damaged teeth but is instead designed to maintain already healthy teeth.
In most cases, prophylaxis cleaning is recommended once every six months. This will ensure plaque does not build up on the surface of the teeth.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a “deep cleaning” that’s typically provided to patients at high risk of developing or already suffering from gum disease. Patients with signs of gum disease such as bleeding gums and swollen gums or loose teeth will require this type of cleaning.
A dentist sometimes could recommend a gross debridement. It is a common cleaning used on patients who have not had a cleaning in over a year or who have developed a buildup of hardened plaque in which prevent the dentist to examine the teeth and gums thoroughly.
Your dentist will determine which cleaning is best suited for your needs. If you require scaling and root planing or/and gross debridement or/and prophy , you might require a few appointments to bring your teeth back to a healthy state. You can then return to basic prophylaxis cleaning.
Does Teeth Cleaning Hurt?
Because pain is quite subjective, some people might be more sensitive to dental cleaning than others. As well, some patients might be exceptionally nervous and experience dental anxiety when thinking about dental appointments. If you have sensitive teeth, cleanings can also prove to be uncomfortable. All of these issues can be discussed with your hygienist prior to your cleaning so that they can make you more comfortable.
All dental treatments, including cleanings, require a plan for the individual. For example, if you do find cleanings painful, a topical anesthetic can be dabbed onto the area to numb your gum tissue. In other cases, you might be told to take an over-the-counter painkiller prior to your appointment. If you are very nervous, there are also forms of sedation available to keep you relaxed during your appointments.
In general, pain is not common during regular cleaning. However, deep cleaning might cause more discomfort than regular cleaning. No matter the situation, always speak up so that your hygienist can help ensure you are as comfortable as possible.
Teeth Cleaning Side Effects
Following a teeth cleaning, you can experience minimal side effects, including soreness, sensitive teeth, and bleeding gums. This type of general discomfort should only last about two or three days.
For deep cleanings, newly exposed areas of the teeth will often be sensitive as they were covered by tartar. As well, receding gums can leave the tooth root exposed, which can be very sensitive. It takes time for your teeth to acclimate following deep cleanings but often will resolve pain on their own. However, you can use a sensitive toothpaste to ease the discomfort very effectively. Side effects should last no more than a week, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Swollen, tender, or bleeding gums will slowly become less uncomfortable, and gentle brushing is recommended.
Regular dental exams, X-rays, and cleanings are necessary to maintain good oral health. When you adhere to a schedule every six months, you reduce the risk of decay and gum disease while ensuring a simple cleaning is all that is required.
If you would like to set up a dental exam or cleaning with Dr. Zavari, DMD and our team, contact us today.
Finally, there’s a dentist you enjoy visiting. Dr. Bita Zavari specializes in cosmetic dentistry, Invisalign, and sleep apnea treatment. She brings a level of care, newest technology, and continuing education unlike any dentist in Beaverton and SW Portland. Elite Dental Care is known for our spa-inspired experience, with welcoming staff, patient entertainment, and state-of-the-art technology. We are conveniently located near Cedar Hills.