Contrary to popular belief, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends your regular dental checkup “at intervals determined by a dentist” rather than biannually. The recommendation many patients receive exceeds two.
That is because, along with vigilant oral health practices, regular dental checkups are a vital element to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. This is largely due in part to the proven two-tiered format of these visits: the examination and the cleaning.
Regular Checkup: The Examination
The number one goal of a regular dental checkup is to detect cavities and potential cavities. The basic physical examination administered by your dentist checks for acid plaque problem areas – zones of clear bacterial growth – as well as the subsequent tartar build-up that causes cavities. This allows your dentist to inform your oral hygiene practices moving forward while establishing shared expectations. Only then does your dentist pinpoint visible surface cavities.
The X-ray portion of the examination allows your dentist to see the invisible: cavities between teeth; tooth roots and other critical bones and tissues; the developing teeth of small children; periodontal diseases. You might hear us use words like intraoral X-rays and extraoral X-rays. These are X-rays taken inside your mouth (intraoral) and X-rays taken outside your mouth (extraoral). Recent developments in intraoral X-ray technology have made it the preferred method at your local dental office for staying on top of cavities and a litany of other periodontal diseases. It is safer for patients and more comprehensive for your local dentist and hygienists alike.
The preferred method of extraoral X-ray is the panoramic X-ray. The goal of the panoramic X-ray is to capture a single picture that encapsulates your whole mouth. This allows us to identify deeply-rooted infections (and even tumors), bone deformities, anomalies, and breaks, impacted teeth, and other injuries.
Regular dental checkups are especially important for babies and small children. Not only does it establish good habits but it safeguards against cavities during a particularly vulnerable time of development. Baby teeth are incredibly porous and more susceptible to ravages of prevalent cavity-producing bacteria.
Regular Checkup: The Cleaning
While proper brushing techniques and regular flossing go a long way towards keeping your teeth free from cavity-producing plaque, tartar that has made its home on the surface of your teeth cannot be removed safely without the help of a professional. These stubborn calcified deposits require attention from precision handheld dental equipment under controlled conditions in order to maximize both comfort and results.
The same applies for other cavity-producing bacteria. Your diligence aside, many harmless and harmful bacteria will spread throughout your mouth between visits. Lactobacillus acidophilus, tenacious bacteria which are responsible for the majority of tooth decay in children, makes its home in the smallest nooks and crannies – think microscopic!
Odontomyces viscoses are bacteria that rest beyond the reach of your toothbrush at the back of your tongue which prey on the protective outer-layer of your tooth root. And then there are the six strains of streptococcus which regularly target the flat surfaces of the sides of your teeth.
Campbell DDS’ cleaning experience is patient-centered. It is our goal to deliver a pain-free cleaning from beginning to end. We believe that listening to our patients is the first step in treating and preventing periodontal disease and establishing truly personalized and lasting oral hygiene regimens. If you are experiencing discomfort during a cleaning we encourage you to speak up!