To keep your teeth and gums healthy, routine dental checkups are essential. Of course, outside of the dental office you should be brushing your teeth & using antiseptic mouthwash twice a day, as well as flossing & cleaning your tongue daily to minimize plaque and promote fresh breath.
Standard Dental Checkup Procedures
A dental checkup includes 5 parts. The duration and intensity of these steps vary depending on the individual and the state of their oral health.
Step 1: Visual Exam
Your Dentist first checks the lymph nodes of your head, jaw, and neck for flexibility, tenderness, and pain. Then your mouth, lips, gums, tongue, and mucous membranes are inspected for sores, growths, decay.
Step 2: Digital Diagnostics
If your Dentist decides that either digital x-rays or 3-D imaging are necessary, they will take place at this point. Digital x-rays provide instant results and can show problems that aren’t obvious during the visual exam. Three-dimensional imaging is used to determine the exact shape and position of teeth.
Step 3: Gingival Pocket Exam
Healthy gums are equally as important as healthy teeth. This exam is used to establish the existence or risk of gum disease in a patient. Your Dentist will use a special hand-held instrument that measures the depth of the pockets between your teeth and gums- the deeper the pocket, the greater risk you have for infection & tooth damage that leads to gum disease.
Step 4: Professional Dental Cleaning
Your Dentist or Hygienist will use an ultrasonic or hand scaler to remove tartar buildup and stain on your teeth. Brushing will remove plaque that sticks on your teeth after eating, but only professional dental instruments will sufficiently remove the hardened plaque called calculus or tartar.
Step 5: Polishing
A polishing paste is used on the teeth to create a smooth surface and delay plaque and biofilm formation. The paste also can remove some surface stains from the teeth. After the polishing is completed, floss is used to remove any remaining plaque or polishing paste from in between the teeth. If recommended by the Dentist or Hygienist, a fluoride treatment may be applied to aid in enamel strengthening. Eating and drinking should be avoided for a minimum of 30 minutes after a fluoride treatment has been provided.