Has it been a long time since you’ve seen a dentist? If you’re taking steps to get your oral health back on track, a teeth cleaning in Phoenix is likely the first thing that should be on your list. You’ll Probably Need a Few X-rays Diagnostic x-rays allow your dentist and hygienist to see tooth anatomy that isn’t visible when they’re looking directly into your mouth. This includes cavities, bone loss, and even tartar buildup along the root surfaces of teeth. Other things that will be screened for include cysts, unerupted teeth, or atypical anatomy that may impact the overall health of your smile. For a thorough dental cleaning and accurate diagnosis of your oral health, x-rays are essential. If it’s the first time you’ve been to the dentist in a while, you may need a full mouth series of x-rays (“FMX”) or a panoramic film of your entire mouth in addition to the routine “bitewing” x-rays you’re used to having once a year. Depending on your oral health status and ongoing needs, you may only have to get x-rays once a year thereafter. Fortunately, digital technology has made dental x-rays safer than ever. Not only does the advanced equipment shave several minutes off of your appointment, but the level of radiation is reduced by as much as 90% compared to conventional radiographs used in years past. In fact, as long as proper precautions are taken, dental x-rays can safely be taken on pregnant women if necessary to assess specific oral health needs. Because the high-resolution images are able to be viewed on a monitor in your exam room, you’ll have a chance to co-diagnose and co-plan any procedures alongside of your dentist, rather than have to take their word for it! Plan to Bring a List of Your Current Medications and Supplements Always bring an updated list of any prescription or over the counter medications, as well as homeopathic supplements that you are currently taking … even if it’s just a baby aspirin on a daily basis. Certain types of medications can cause changes inside of your mouth such as increased bleeding or fibrous gum growths. Making your dentist aware of medications that you take can aid in a more thorough diagnosis and screening of potential health concerns. Recent Hospitalizations or Surgeries? Let Your Dentist Know If you’ve recently had a medical procedure, surgery, or health scare, it’s extremely important to let your dental team know. A common misconception is that your medical history isn’t relevant to having your teeth cleaned. However, many common health concerns may contraindicate a dental procedure or call for extra precautions during the appointment. It’s Not Just About Cleaning Your Teeth Your cleaning appointment will also include an examination with the dentist. You’ll need to have a variety of oral health assessments, including areas such as: Oral cancer screenings — Oral cancer is a dangerous and deadly disease. While smoking and alcohol use are risk factors, so is sun exposure and specific types of viruses like HPV. The best treatment is early diagnosis; an examination with your dentist could save your life. Periodontal health — You’re focused on having clean, healthy teeth, but to do that you need to have healthy gums that support them. During your cleaning, you’ll receive a screening for gum disease and bone loss. If you’ve ever heard your hygienist calling out a series of numbers (“3, 2, 3…” etc.) then you’ll know you’re having your gum attachment levels measured; anything 3mm or less is considered healthy or normal. Integrity of existing dental work — How long have you had your fillings and crowns? Dental work is meant to last for years, but it won’t last forever. Routine examinations of your restorations can help you avoid unwanted emergencies or recurrent decay by replacing them once leakage or wear starts to develop. Tooth wear and alignment — Time and habits can cause tooth enamel to wear down prematurely. The way your teeth occlude (bite together) thereby impact things like gum health, TMJ disorders, functional and aesthetic conditions. Maintaining a healthy bite can prolong the health of your smile for years to come. Medical considerations — Underlying health issues can significantly impact your dental health. Even decreased saliva flow (a common side effect of medications) can predispose you to increased tooth decay. Cancer patients may need additional dental care to prevent complex needs associated with radiation or chemotherapy. Preventative Cleaning vs. Deep Cleanings The typical dental cleaning is preventative in nature. When you book a six-month visit, your hygienist cleans away buildup that’s accumulated since the last appointment and polishes away surface stains. She may use manual hand instruments or an automated ultrasonic to loosen and flush debris away with a gentle spray of water. But if it’s been a long time since you’ve last had your teeth cleaned — or even several years — there may be more buildup and tissue deterioration than what can be managed with a routine preventative cleaning. If that’s the case, a deep cleaning might be recommended to restore balance and get your smile back on the road to recovery. While not everyone needs a deep cleaning or debridement on their first trip back to the dentist, it’s best to prepare for one just in case. Expecting to have your teeth cleaned on the first trip back could leave you feeling disappointed if you find out that there’s more buildup than you expected. When all else fails, it’s usually possible to start your cleaning and schedule a follow-up visit to finish it a week or two later. “How Long Will It Take?” Most routine dental cleanings are scheduled for about an hour, giving your hygienist plenty of time to clean your teeth, take any necessary x-rays, perform gum assessments, and your dentist examine all of the findings. If it’s been several years, let the office know and additional time can be reserved when necessary. Or you can plan to make a second appointment to finish the cleaning later if the one-hour reservation isn’t enough time and a deep cleaning is needed. Take the First Step to Bettering Your Oral Health When it’s time to book your next dental cleaning or checkup, visit the best dentist in 85254. Call Lernor Family Dental today to get started.
Has it been awhile since your last professional teeth cleaning? No problem! Call Dr. Lernor, a top Phoenix dentist, at 602-483-4112 or request an appointment online to schedule your next exam and cleaning.