When you come for your dental check up in Scottsdale, the professionals at Lernor Family Dental are here to help you get the most out of your smile through several essential services.
Some things are bit more obvious about why they’re being done, while others you may not be familiar with.
Most visits include things like x-rays, a cleaning, and an exam. When and why are each of these procedures needed?
Dental and Health History
First, when your hygienist escorts you to the exam room, they’ll likely ask you if you’re having any trouble with your health or smile. Don’t hesitate to let them know. This step can help better diagnose and treat your oral health needs by being aware of the situation at hand. Maybe they’ll need to take a specific type of x-ray that wouldn’t be required otherwise. Or perhaps when the dentist comes in for your exam, they’ll need some special diagnostic items handy.
If there are any changes in your medical history, you should let your provider know at this time. Some important things that may affect your dental health include certain medications (like blood thinners) and conditions like heart problems.
There are three different kinds of x-rays that your dental professional will take at certain visits, depending on your situation.
Bitewings: In adults, bitewing x-rays are a series of four images. For younger children who have fewer teeth, two bitewings (one on each side) is enough to see what’s needed.
This type of x-ray set is usually taken once per year. They’re great for showing any cavities that are between the teeth, which can’t be seen when the dentist visually looks into your mouth. Many people don’t floss like they should, which leads to decay in these areas.
Only the body of the back teeth appears in bitewings. There are only four images needed because one film alone can show up to three or four teeth on the top and the bottom jaw.
Full Mouth X-Rays (FMX): A series of x-rays of all of your teeth is called an FMX. Unless you’re having trouble, this is normally done once every 3-5 years. It consists of about 18 films, which show anywhere from one to four teeth per film.
This set includes the bitewings, along with PAs (periapical) images. PAs show the entire body of the tooth as well as all the way around the tip of the root and the jaw bone. Since nerve tissue is apparent, this type of x-ray is useful in diagnosing an abscess or crack. If you require an extraction, the dentist can also look at the size, length, and curvature of the roots to decide if you should be referred to an oral surgeon.
Panorex or Cat-Scan: This single image displays some very important things. In small children, a panorex will show if they have all of their permanent teeth developing properly or aid in orthodontic assessments. In young adults, this x-ray will allow a dentist to see how the wisdom teeth are developing and if they’ll end up causing any future trouble. If they think the teeth should be extracted, they can look at the roots (as with the periapical) and nerves, to decide if a referral to a specialist is necessary.
A panoramic film is usually taken every five years. Along with cat-scans, they’re the most comfortable for the patient. The only requirement is that you sit in a chair, or stand in the proper position, and the imaging unit rotates around your head. It takes a matter of seconds to complete.
Periodic review of this type of x-ray will also help check for tumors, as well as aid in treatment planning for dental implants, full mouth rehabilitation, or TMJ therapy.
Screening for Gum Disease
Periodontal disease can cause bone and tooth loss.
While X-rays show some bone loss, additional steps are needed to detect soft tissue detachment. Probing depths around each tooth will be recorded (measuring where the gums attach to the tooth.) If a lot of tartar build up is present, it will creep under the gums. If not removed, the calcified bacteria will push the tissue away, opening a pocket and causing an infection known as periodontitis (gum disease). An instrument much like a small ruler is used to measure how deep the pocket is. The farther down the ruler goes, the more severe the condition is. Measurements are taken in millimeters, with 3mm and under being completely normal. Anything deeper than that can mean you’ll need to undergo a special type of cleaning known as root planing and scaling. It’s likely you’ll have to come back on a different day for this procedure, since it takes longer and often requires local anesthesia (numbing.)
If your gums are healthy though, your hygienist will proceed with your cleaning.
Prophylaxis (Cleaning Your Teeth)
The hygienist will begin by using special instruments to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your tooth surfaces. Once it’s all been removed, they’ll floss and polish away surface stains. If you’d like, you can get a fluoride treatment as well. Fluoride gels and varnish are great for reducing sensitivity and helping to prevent tooth decay.
The Dental Exam
Your exam is one of the most important steps in diagnosis, intervention, and treating oral health problems as early as possible.
Checking for signs of oral cancer during your exam is one of the things that you may not be aware of. A thorough check of the soft tissues in the lips and tongue is essential. Even the roof and floor of the mouth, along with your throat, will be checked for suspicious lesions and pathology.
Your TMJ will be evaluated for popping or clicking noises, including pain in the joint, or restriction of movement.
Of course, your dentist will also check for cavities, and any trauma such as cracks, breaks, or excessive wear. They’ll even look for gum infections and bone loss. Using what they see in your mouth and referring to the x-rays, your dental team will establish a treatment plan for any work needing to be done.
As you can see, every part of your dental visit has its purpose and is important for your oral health. So, don’t miss out on regular dental check-ups even if you think you don’t need them. Start today by giving Lernor Family Dental a call to schedule an appointment at our Scottsdale dental office. You can even take advantage of our $39 dental exam special, going on now!
Are you looking for the best Scottsdale dental office to handle all of your dental needs? Dr. Lernor is a top Arizona dentist with 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages! Schedule an appointment online or give him a call at (602) 483-4112 today.