A Comprehensive Examination

We want you to understand what is included in a thorough dental examination because we believe it is vital for you to be an active participant in your oral care. That way, we can work together to maintain and improve your oral health.

It is important to regularly monitor the health of your mouth because dental problems can grow quickly and lead to worsening infections, tooth loss, and an unattractive appearance. Regular examinations help us keep your mouth healthy and your smile beautiful. When we examine your mouth, we usually look for signs of tooth decay, periodontal disease, and any problems with your bite.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is caused by acids that are produced by certain kinds of bacteria in the mouth. These acids dissolve tooth structure and cause cavities in the teeth.

Some cavities are easy to see, but for hard-to-find cavities, we may use a dental explorer. A dental explorer sticks slightly when it contacts decayed surfaces on the tops and sides of your teeth.

We also use x-rays to look for decay inside and between teeth. Cavities show up on x-rays as dark spots.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an infection of the teeth and gums that causes the jawbone to recede and the gums to pull away from the tooth, creating pockets in the gums. Since you may have no pain or other symptoms with periodontal disease, we use visual examination, a periodontal probe, and x-rays to look for it.

During your examination, we look for red and swollen gums. We use a periodontal probe to measure the depth of the gums from the bottom of the pocket where it is attached to the tooth, to the top of the gums.

A probe reading of more than 3 millimeters is a sign of periodontal disease, and the deeper the pockets, the greater the spread of the disease. Sometimes gums bleed when we probe them; bleeding is also a sign of infection. Healthy gums do not bleed.

X-rays also show us a lot about periodontal disease. In a healthy mouth, the bone comes up high around the necks of the teeth, and it is even throughout the mouth. In advanced periodontal disease, the bone level is much lower and often uneven.

Bite Problems

During your checkup, we inspect your bite. When you chew, a healthy bite allows all of your teeth to hit simultaneously, your chewing muscles to contract evenly, and your jaw joint to be seated into its proper position.

However, a bad bite or misaligned teeth can trap plaque and bacteria, leading to periodontal disease and tooth decay. Bite problems can cause tooth grinding and clenching, tooth sensitivity, and the loss of tooth structure near the gumline. They can also contribute to difficulties with your jaw joint, the TMJ.

Oral Cancer Exam

We perform a thorough oral cancer exam during your checkups because early detection can save your life.

The Signs of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the mouth and throat. Some of the warning signs are:

  • A red, white, or discolored patch or lump in or around your mouth.
  • An area that has thickened, raised, or become hardened.
  • A rough patch of tissue.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • A chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
Exam Procedure

During the exam, we feel for lumps or abnormal tissue changes on your neck and inside your mouth.

We thoroughly examine the soft tissues in your mouth, especially the most frequent oral cancer sites:

  • Your tongue.
  • The floor of your mouth.
  • Your soft palate.
  • Your lips.
  • Your gums.

We may also do additional testing or use specialized equipment to identify any suspicious areas, particularly if you’re at higher risk, such as adults over 40, anyone who uses tobacco, especially those who also drink alcohol excessively, or people who have had oral contact with the human papilloma virus.

Lifestyle Changes

Some lifestyle changes can minimize your chances of developing oral cancer. Our recommended changes include the following:

  • Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables each day.

With regular exams and a healthy lifestyle, you can better maintain your oral and overall health.

Premedication Protocol for Dental Care

Pre-meds Prevent Infection

If you have certain heart conditions or have had a joint replaced, we may prescribe antibiotics for you to take before your dental appointment.

For some patients, pre-medications are necessary to prevent infection. We review your health history and determine if pre-medications are right for you.

Reviewing your Medical History

Before we prescribe these medications, we ask you about your health history. Let us know if your medical history involves your cardiovascular system, a compromised immune system, or other serious medical problems.

If you have any drug allergies, or if you have questions or concerns about our procedures, please let us know, so we can protect you and keep your teeth healthy.

The Benefit of Pre-medications

We prescribe these medications to prevent infection. Many common dental procedures, such as routine teeth cleaning, can cause minor bleeding that might allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. For most patients, these bacteria are harmless, but for some patients, the bacteria can cause serious infections.

One of these infections is bacterial endocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart. It can damage the valves of the heart, the heart muscle, or the lining of the heart. Another problem can occur when the bacteria settle in an artificial joint, increasing the risk of infection.

By prescribing an appropriate antibiotic that you take before your dental appointment, we can help you avoid these risks and help you stay healthy.

Full Series Digital X-ray

A full series of x-rays is the first step in a thorough dental examination because it gives us a full view of your mouth.

A full series is important because the x-rays give us vital information that we cannot get from any other source.

Benefits of a Full Series of X-rays

We use a full series of x-rays to find a variety of oral conditions throughout your mouth, including:

  • Cavities between the teeth.
  • Tartar on the tooth roots.
  • Worn-out or broken fillings or crowns.
  • Receding bone levels resulting from periodontal disease.
  • Abscesses.
Procedure for taking a Full Series of Digital X-rays

First, we cover you with a lead apron to protect your body while we take x-rays of your mouth. Then we place the x-ray sensor inside your mouth so that it lines up properly to get x-ray images of your teeth.

We repeat this process by moving the sensor to 18 or 19 specific locations to thoroughly evaluate your entire mouth.

Safety of a Full Series of Digital X-rays

Digital x-ray sensors are quite sensitive, so the amount of radiation exposure is very low. In fact, compared to conventional x-rays, digital x-ray systems can reduce the amount of radiation up to 80 percent.

We repeat this process by moving the sensor to 18 or 19 specific locations to thoroughly evaluate your entire mouth.

Cone Beam CT SCAN

Cone Beam produces better Images

X-rays are an important diagnostic tool in dentistry. But, x-rays can only give a two-dimensional side view.

Now, Cone beam x-ray technology produces a high resolution, three-dimensional, color image with unprecedented detail.

We can zoom through the image to view bone and soft tissue with incredible accuracy. We can see images from every angle, including the biting surfaces of teeth.

This can be used to create a 3-D model to be used for planning and eliminate the need to take a traditional impression.

The Procedure

To get a cone beam CT scan, simply ease into the chin rest. The procedure usually takes only a few seconds and can be done right here in our office.

As the camera moves around your head, a cone-shaped beam gets a complete x-ray.

The Benefits

The precision of the 3-D image is extremely useful in placing implants, planning orthodontic treatment, locating root canals, evaluating problems with the jaw joints, and diagnosing possible cysts, tumors, or infections at earlier stages.

Cone beam x-rays help us plan your treatment with increased accuracy and a more detailed diagnosis. It’s a technological advancement that helps us improve your oral health.

Panoramic Digital X-ray

Single Photo X-ray

Sometimes we just need to see the bigger picture. That is when a digital panoramic x-ray is the right choice.

A panoramic x-ray is a single photo that captures an overall view of your teeth, jaws, and surrounding areas.

Comfortable Procedure

There are no uncomfortable film packets to hold between your teeth. Just ease your chin onto the chin rest, and the camera does the rest. The camera revolves around your head to get a wider, fuller view that is not possible with traditional film x-rays. Your x-ray is done in a matter of seconds.

Advantages of Digital X-rays

Digital x-rays have advantages over film x-rays. Because there is no film, there are no chemicals to process, and you see your image sooner. This computer image can be enhanced for a better diagnosis. Digital x-rays can be electronically sent to other dentists or insurance companies. Many machines emit up to 80% less radiation than traditional film x-rays.

We may use the digital panoramic x-ray in conjunction with traditional x-rays to get a detailed picture of your oral health.

A panoramic x-ray is a great tool for:

  • Planning orthodontic treatment.
  • Placing implants.
  • Extracting wisdom teeth.
  • Diagnosing impacted teeth.
  • Finding cysts.
  • Diagnosing problems with the jaw joints.

A digital, panoramic x-ray is one more way to keep your teeth in picture perfect health.

Advantages of Digital Radiography

Digital Radiography

The computer era has brought us an exciting new technology called digital radiography.

With this technology, we use computerized equipment and software to capture x-ray images of your mouth and teeth. We do this by exposing a small sensor or plate that feeds the image into a computer.

The Advantages of Digital Radiography

Digital radiography has many advantages over traditional dental x-rays:

  • It’s faster.
  • It’s safer, with no chemical development and less radiation.
  • We can view images instantly.
  • We can enhance images to improve viewing.
  • Images can be stored electronically and e-mailed to specialists and insurance companies.

Taking x-rays is faster because the sensor is merely moved from tooth to tooth, and your x-ray can be seen on a computer monitor just moments after exposure. There’s no waiting for chemical development, as with film packets.

The lack of chemicals also makes digital x-rays safer for the environment. Digital radiography is safe for you, too. Because the unit is so sensitive, the amount of x-ray radiation is up to 80% less than with conventional x-rays.

Digital x-ray technology enables more efficient diagnosis and treatment because it provides a large, easy-to-see image, and it allows us to make adjustments and see details in the x-ray images. The digital x-rays can then become part of your dental record and be easily e-mailed to specialists and insurance companies.

With digital radiography, we can offer you faster and safer diagnosis and dental treatment.

Ultrasonic Scaling

Effective Procedure

Ultrasonic scaling is one of the most effective procedures for removing plaque and tartar.

Removing tartar and bacteria are crucial to treating gingivitis, controlling periodontal disease, and preventing tooth decay.

An Ultrasonic Scaler

An ultrasonic scaler consists of a wand with a small scaling tip that produces a soft ultrasonic vibration and a gentle flow of water. As the tip moves along the tooth surface, it makes quick, small vibrations that break up plaque and tartar.

These vibrations give you a tickling sensation and cause millions of microscopic bubbles to form in the water.

The Benefits of Ultrasonic Scaling

Ultrasonic scaling can be more comfortable than hand scaling because the tip is extremely small. Also, much of the work is done without disturbing the gum tissue.

In addition, we can add a medicated solution to the water to treat any infection and aid healing.

The lack of chemicals also makes digital x-rays safer for the environment. Digital radiography is safe for you, too. Because the unit is so sensitive, the amount of x-ray radiation is up to 80% less than with conventional x-rays.

Scaling your teeth with an ultrasonic scaler is an effective and efficient method for helping you keep your healthy and beautiful smile.Please, call us if you have questions or concerns.

Scaling and Root Planing Post-op Instructions

Now that you have had scaling and root planing therapy, it is important to follow these recommendations to speed healing.

Do not eat anything for 2 hours after surgery. When you do feel comfortable enough to eat, but you still have numbness, be careful not to bite your cheeks or tongue.

For the first 48 to 72 hours, restrict your diet to soft foods such as yogurt, scrambled eggs, and soup, until you can comfortably chew. Chew on the side of your mouth opposite of the surgery site.

Avoid alcoholic drinks and hot or spicy foods until your gums are healed. Do not use any tobacco products for at least 72 hours because tobacco slows healing.

If we used an anesthetic, take pain medication before the anesthetic wears off to control any discomfort, or as recommended. It is normal to experience some discomfort for several days after surgery.

For the first 6 hours after surgery, apply an ice pack, 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off, to decrease pain and swelling.

After 24 hours, reduce discomfort or swelling by gently rinsing your mouth with warm salt water 3 times a day. Use about 1 teaspoon of salt per glass of warm water.

Brush the treated area very lightly the first night. To make this more comfortable, first rinse your toothbrush under hot water to soften the bristles.

The next day, begin flossing lightly, and gradually return to your usual home care over the next week. It is normal to have some slight bleeding for the first few days when you brush and floss the treated areas.Brush and floss the non-treated areas of your mouth normally.Use a desensitizing toothpaste if your teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, or pressure.If we prescribed a medicated mouthrinse, use it as directed. Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol.

Call us if discomfort is not diminishing day by day, or if swelling increases or continues beyond 3 or 4 days.

Periodontal Maintenance Procedure

Periodontal Disease only Controlled

Periodontal disease cannot be cured; it can only be controlled. That is why we need to examine the health of your gums at least every three months or sooner. If periodontal disease is not closely monitored and controlled, the disease can quickly worsen, destroy bone and soft tissue, and eventually cause you to lose teeth.

Frequent Maintenance Visits are Important

When we first find periodontal disease, we treat it with scaling and root planing to remove plaque and calculus, and to disrupt the bacteria from beneath your gumline.

Removing Plaque below the Gumline

This treatment disrupts the growth of the bacteria, but some bacteria remain and may settle back into the pocket where they reproduce. In fact, the number of bacteria doubles every time they reproduce, reaching destructive levels in as few as 90 days.

Periodontal Disease is Unpredictable

It can be challenging to predict where in your mouth the symptoms of periodontal disease may recur or when, and frequently, it does not hurt. This also means that a twice-a-year cleaning schedule is not adequate for those who have periodontal disease. The only way to find and control periodontal disease is with a professional exam that specifically looks for the disease. The dental hygienist will make notations and measurements during the exam to calculate and assess your periodontal condition.

The Maintenance Appointment

It is important that you come in every three months, or more, for a periodontal maintenance appointment which may include:

  • Taking radiographs to check bone levels.
  • Measuring and monitoring the depth of periodontal pockets.
  • Checking for loose teeth or bleeding gums.
  • Removing plaque and buildup of calculus above and below the gumline, which disrupts the bacteria.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of your homecare and making recommendations.

If necessary, we may also re-treat the teeth with scaling and root planing, apply a medication or add antimicrobial rinse to your home care routine. If your disease has progressed, we may refer you to a periodontal specialist.

Periodontal maintenance visits help us break and disrupt the stronghold of bacteria in your gums and slow or eliminate their destructive effects.