Routine Dental Checkups
Routine dental checkups are vital to good oral hygiene and are the best way to detect problems at their earliest stages. Early detection and treatment saves unnecessary discomfort, time and money.
The Academy of General Dentistry recommends checkups twice a year. Oral hygiene needs change with age and the condition of your teeth and gums. Your dentist may recommend a checkup schedule that is more or less frequent than twice a year.
What to Expect
Your dental checkup includes:
• A visual exam of your mouth, face, jaw and neck
• Digital diagnostics, as determined by your dentist
• A gingival pocket exam
• Professional cleaning of your teeth
• Comprehensive data capture in an electronic dental record
Gingival Pocket Exam
Healthy teeth require healthy gums. A gingival pocket exam determines the presence or risk of gum (periodontal) disease.
What to Know:
• Each tooth sits inside a gingival pocket of gum tissue. Food debris and plaque naturally collect inside this pocket.
• Daily tooth brushing and flossing remove food debris and plaque from the gingival pocket. If not removed, harmful bacteria penetrate the gumline and deepen the pocket.
• As the depth of a gingival pocket increases, so does the risk of tooth damage and infection that leads to gum disease.
• During your exam, a hand-held instrument is gently placed between gums and teeth (sulcus) to measure the depth of each pocket.
• In its earliest stage, gum disease may be reversible. Since it rarely has symptoms of pain, it is possible to have gum disease and not know it.
Your teeth are cleaned using special instruments to remove plaque from above and below the gumline. Afterwards, your teeth are polished. Tooth polishing makes your teeth look and feel great. It also smooths tooth surfaces so plaque is less likely to accumulate.
Good Oral Hygiene
The key to healthy teeth and gums is keeping plaque and food decay from building up in your mouth. Plaque and food decay attract harmful bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease and persistent bad breath.
Your tongue attracts bacteria, too. During the normal process of eating, tiny fragments of food collect on your tongue. As these fragments decay, bacteria create a filmy white coating on the top of your tongue.
Practice the four-step routine to keep plaque and harmful bacteria from building up in your mouth.
Easy Four-Step Routine
To keep your teeth and gums healthy:
• Brush your teeth and use an antiseptic mouthwash twice daily (after breakfast and before bedtime)
• Use dental floss daily
• Clean your tongue regularly by using a toothbrush or a tongue scraper
• See your dentist for routine dental checkups
Benefits of Good Hygiene
When you practice good oral hygiene, you will:
• Have less plaque to remove during routine dental checkups, so professional cleanings will be faster and more comfortable
• Minimize your need for dental procedures due to tooth decay or gum disease
• Minimize your annual dental budget
• Feel healthier
• Enjoy fresher breath
• Be more confident about your smile