General dentistry includes exams and cleanings, oral cancer screenings and education on proper dental hygiene. Early detection of dental problems is essential to gain optimal oral health.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should visit the dentist within six months after the presence of the first tooth or by his or her first birthday. Early oral examination aids in the detection of the early stages of tooth decay. Early detection is also essential to maintain good oral health.
With regular check-ups and cleanings, your dentist can ensure healthy and happy smiles. It is recommended for all patients to schedule a routine six-month check-up exam. Your dentist will screen your child’s mouth for tooth decay and gum disease. Regular professional dental cleanings are essential for a healthy mouth. During your child’s dental cleaning, they will gently remove any buildup of plaque or tarter.
Your dentist may also recommend dental sealants for your child. Sealants protect against tooth decay and cavities on your child’s molars. Molars are the most susceptible to cavities and least benefitted by topical fluoride. Sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth and are highly effective in preventing tooth decay. Fluoride may be applied to the teeth as well. Topical fluoride is used to strengthen enamel and make teeth more resistant to tooth decay.
Without proper dental care, children are susceptible to oral decay. Healthy smiles should not stop at your dental office. Your dentist will educate you and your child on how to make good food choices and how to properly brush and floss at home.
Your dentist has the experience and qualifications to care for your child’s teeth, gums and mouth throughout various stages of childhood.
Dental Cleanings and Exams
It is recommended by the ADA that everyone should visit the dentist at least twice per year to ensure optimal oral health. Your dental team will consistently provide you with high-quality professional dental cleanings and thorough preventive exams.
The purpose of a teeth cleaning is to rid the teeth of harmful build-up of plaque and stains that may prevent a healthy smile. During cleanings your dentist will:
- Remove tartar build-up on your teeth
- Remove plaque
- Perform teeth polishing to help remove light surface stains and prevent plaque from easily reattaching to your teeth
Your dentist can help clean surfaces of your teeth that you may have missed during brushing and flossing. During your appointment, he or she will also:
- Evaluate your overall health and oral hygiene
- Check your bite and jaw for any problems
- Evaluate your risk of tooth decay and gum or bone disease
- Evaluate existing tooth restorations
- Screen for oral cancer
- Take dental x-rays if necessary
Regular professional dental cleanings and exams are essential for attaining a healthy mouth.
Your dentist’s top priority is to provide you with the highest level of service and quality dental care. In order for you to maintain proper oral health, this level of quality needs to extend to your personal oral hygiene routine. Taking good care of your teeth at home can help you prevent periodontal disease, tooth decay and other oral health problems from developing.
It is recommended to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft bristle toothbrush and floss daily to prevent the build-up of plaque and tooth decay. If possible, use products containing fluoride to help strengthen teeth. It is important to keep up with regular professional cleanings from your dentist to prevent oral problems from occurring.
Also, keeping a balanced diet and reducing the number of snacks you eat can contribute to a healthy smile. Eating too many snacks filled with sugar can put you at a greater risk for tooth decay. If possible, drink a glass of water after every meal to wash down these sugars if brushing your teeth isn’t an option after food intake.
Your dental office can help you establish a dental hygiene routine that will keep your teeth healthy and white.
Your dentist may offer fluoride treatment to prevent tooth decay for patients. Fluoride helps by making the tooth more resistant to the buildup of plaque and sugars. It can also speed re-mineralization as well as disrupt acid erosion in teeth.
Fluoride can be applied to the teeth as a gel, foam or varnish. According to the ADA, fluoride intake is often recommended for infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years. During this time, primary and permanent teeth are developing. Fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth, making it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth.
Adults can benefit from fluoride as well to fight tooth decay and strengthen teeth. People with the following oral health conditions are more susceptible to decay and may especially benefit from fluoride treatment:
- Dry mouth
- Gum disease
- History of frequent cavities
- Presence of crowns and/or bridges
- Undergoing orthodontic treatment
In addition to receiving fluoride treatment at your dental office, it can be directly applied to the teeth through fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. Mouth rinses containing fluoride in lower strengths are available over-the-counter. However, stronger mouth rinses can be provided by a doctor’s prescription. Fluoride can also be found in public water supplies.
Night guards are worn for those who grind their teeth at night. Most people are completely unaware that they do it, because often they do it while they sleep. Teeth grinding causes your teeth to flatten and become worn down. If not properly treated, you may experience sensitivity and pain to your teeth, cracks in your teeth, receding gums and possible tooth loss.
An occlusal adjustment corrects the alignment of your bite and evenly distributes it to eliminate irregular pressure on one side of the mouth. Tooth sensitivity may be corrected through an occlusal adjustment as the treatment reduces pressures on sensitive teeth.
The process of an occlusal adjustment is easy and convenient. The dentist utilizes a computer scan to record hundreds of bite registrations per minute of your mouth. This allows your dentist to notice the slightest irregularity and make only the adjustments that are absolutely necessary.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Your dental office emphasizes the importance of providing routine oral cancer screenings. Your dentist may be certified to detect and properly diagnose oral cancer. By detecting any abnormalities in your oral health early, it will help you get the treatment you need to either regress or eliminate the risk of developing a more serious oral health condition.
Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer can be found on the lips, tongue, gums or lining of the mouth or throat. Studies show it is responsible for the death of one adult American every hour. Early detection of oral cancer is crucial to its treatment success. For this reason, your dentist recommends an annual oral cancer screening. There are a number of oral cancer symptoms that start to appear early on, including:
- White or red patches in your mouth
- A mouth sore that won’t heal within two weeks
- Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
- A soreness of feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
- Problem or pain with swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
- Lumps or swellings in or around your mouth
- Ear pain
- Dramatic weight loss
If you show any symptoms that last for more than a week and show no signs of regressing, schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately.
Oral cancer can happen to anyone, although research suggests that it is slightly more common in men. Those who smoke or use tobacco products are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancer. Oral cancer is also more likely to occur in those with genetic predisposition, prolonged sun exposure, or in those who drink alcohol excessively. However, it is important to note that anyone can get oral cancer.
Treatment success depends on the size, type and stage of the cancer. In most cases, small cancerous tumors are removed along with a small ring of healthy tissue that surrounded it and radiation or chemotherapy is then delivered to kill off any remaining cancerous cells.
Sealants are highly effective in preventing tooth decay and cavities on your molars and premolars. These areas are the most susceptible to cavities due to the anatomized grooves.
Typically, children get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.
The process of applying sealants is easy and fast. The application steps are as follows:
i. A thorough cleaning is done
ii. Each tooth is then dried
iii. A solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to help the sealant bond to the teeth
iv. The sealant is painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens.
Sealants act as a barrier and protect the enamel from plaque and acids. They may last for several years before a reapplication is needed. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay.
Sealants are not a substitute for brushing your teeth. It is important to maintain proper oral hygiene. Also, sealants do not protect between the teeth, so it is essential to continue to floss daily.
Snore appliances are a form of treatment for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can disrupt sleep because it causes the muscles of the airway to block airflow. A snore appliance can be used to keep the airway open during sleep and promoting adequate air intake.
Space maintainers are needed if your child loses a tooth early or have a baby tooth extracted due to dental decay. A space maintainer is designed to hold the remaining teeth in a position that will allow the future permanent tooth to erupt in the proper location. If a space maintainer is not placed, the teeth will shift into the open areas, making it difficult for the permanent tooth to erupt.
A dental extraction may be recommended when a tooth is deeply decayed, causing severe pain or in conjunction with orthodontic treatment. Pain management techniques and technology have made dental extractions possible with little to no discomfort.
After this procedure, be sure to rest and follow the doctor’s orders. You can use a cold compress to keep swelling down and reduce pain. Also, limit yourself to soft foods after surgery. Avoid drinking from a straw and smoking to prevent dry sockets. Your dental team will provide after care instructions following your extraction.
Extraction Site Preservation
When removing a tooth, it may be important to consider what will be done with the empty space after that tooth is removed. If nothing is done with the extraction site, the jaw bone may degenerate and change shape during the healing process.
A dental implant or bridge can be used to fill in the empty space.