Did you know that 36% of people in the US are afraid to go to the dentist? If the thought of going to the dentist makes your heart race and your hands start to sweat, you’re not alone. However, a routine dental cleaning is extremely important to your oral health.
Poor oral health not only impacts your mouth, but it can also be related to other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
If this is your first time at the dentist or your first time after many years of avoiding the dentist, knowing what to expect can help lessen your fear. Read on to learn more about the benefits of a routine dental cleaning and what you should expect if you visit Dr. Bob or Dr. Monika at Brushin’ on Belmont.
Prior to your appointment, many dental offices will have you fill out new patient paperwork (or update your paperwork if you are an established patient). Your dentist will want to know about your oral health, any medications that you are taking, allergies, your lifestyle behaviors (such as smoking, using smokeless tobacco, drinking coffee, etc.), and any medical conditions.
If you’re a new patient, they’ll also ask about previous surgeries and your oral health history, including oral surgery. They will also ask if you are pregnant, as they may opt to wait on x-rays if you are expecting.
The dental assistant or hygienist will also ask you about any issues you are experiencing with your teeth, such as painful areas, clenching, teeth grinding at night, or other problems.
Most dentists will take x-rays once a year. The x-rays will be of your full mouth and will detect anything that may not be visible by just examining your teeth. X-rays will also give your dentist an idea of other dental work you have done, as they’ll be able to see fillings, bonding, root canals, wisdom teeth, etc.
Exposure to radiation is low with x-rays and you’ll typically be given a lead apron to wear during the x-rays that will absorb any radiation, keeping you safe.
During your exam, the dentist will likely go over any problem areas on your x-rays, indicating teeth where you might have decay and need a filling, old fillings that may need to be replaced, or watch areas, where your dentist will want to pay special attention to at your future exams because of the potential for cavities or other issues.
A routine dental exam will also typically include a cleaning. The dental hygienist will start by cleaning your teeth either with ultrasonic cleaning equipment or dental tools to scrape any plaque and tartar away.
After your teeth are cleaned, they will then polish them, floss them, and typically talk with you about proper techniques, any areas where they notice you are missing while brushing or flossing, and provide resources for special toothpaste, mouthwashes, or other products they may recommend.
After your cleaning, your dentist will examine your teeth. The hygienist will share any problems that you are having, any areas of decay they saw on the x-rays or during the cleaning, and will assist the dentist in their exam.
The dentist may ask you to close your mouth so they can look at your bite, ask you to lift up your tongue, and examine any areas of decay.
Oral Cancer Screen
The dentist also will perform an oral cancer screening. To do this, they will look for signs of cancer in your mouth, around your gums, on your cheeks and lips, on the roof of your mouth, the floor of your mouth, and feel down your neck.
There are certain risk factors that make you more at risk for oral cancer, including excessive sun exposure (which increases the risk of cancer on your lips), tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, and previous oral cancers.
If you don’t have any cavities or a need for future treatment, your dentist will typically tell you to make an appointment for your next cleaning in 6 months. If you do need further treatment, your dentist will go over a treatment plan that may include fillings, root canals, or other dental work to address any decay or gum disease.
The Importance of Routine Dental Cleanings
A routine dental cleaning can brighten your smile and remove any surface stains, from coffee, tea, wine, soda, or other dark beverages or foods. Fizzy drinks, such as carbonated water, can also cause decay or staining. Seeing the dentist regularly for cleanings will get rid of these stains, keeping your teeth white.
Regular visits to the dentist also ensure that any decay is caught early, before it causes extensive damage. Regular dental care also helps identify things like gum disease, any signs of oral cancer, and other health issues that are associated with your oral health that your dentist may notice.
Schedule a Routine Dental Cleaning Today
The importance of regularly visiting the dentist can’t be overstated. Fresh breath, clean teeth, and a megawatt smile are all waiting for you after a routine dental cleaning. Make sure you schedule them regularly to maintain your oral health and treat any problems early.
If you’re ready for a routine dental cleaning, don’t wait any longer to schedule. Call us at Brushin’ on Belmont to get on our schedule! Dr. Bob and Dr. Monika are available for pediatric and general dentistry needs.