When most of a us think of a teeth cleaning appointment, we think of polishing and maybe a little scraping. But the truth is that teeth cleaning appointments are about so much more than clean, shiny teeth!
Most teeth cleaning appointments also include a quick examination by the dentist. That’s one of the reasons we call them check-ups: your teeth cleaning appointment is an opportunity for the dental hygienist and the dentist check up on your oral health.
The dentist will pop in at some point during your time with the dental hygienist and perform a quick examination. This exam looks for more than just cavities. The dentist and the hygienist will examine your gums for signs of gum disease and your entire mouth for other problems, such as early signs of oral cancer. This may involve a little poking and prodding with a small metal tool called an explorer and a dental mirror. They will also review your x-rays, which are often taken at the beginning of the appointment. The dentist will discuss any potential problems that they have spotted, introduce treatment options if necessary, and ask you if you have any concerns.
Your teeth cleaning appointment is also a great opportunity for educate yourself about your teeth. Even if all you need is to brush up (so to speak) on your toothbrushing and flossing techniques, your teeth cleaning is a great opportunity to ask questions. You can ask your dentist or dental hygienist for recommendations on which toothpaste to use, options for whitening your teeth, or any other topics of concern or curiosity. Regular dental care works best when the dentist, hygienist and the patient are all actively involved in the treatment process, so don’t be shy about getting informed!
It’s also extremely important to know that your dental health is part of your overall health. Just because you see one doctor for your teeth and another for your general health doesn’t mean these things aren’t related! Gum disease and tooth decay have been linked to other health problems like heart disease and low birthweight in babies. People with certain health problems like diabetes or cancer are more prone to dental problems than others. In addition to oral health related problems, your dentist and hygienist can spot signs in your mouth (such as dry mouth, bad breath or sores) that may indicate a problem with your general health.
We know not everyone looks forward to teeth cleanings, but going to your dentist frequently for a cleaning and checkup is the best way to prevent potentially painful and expensive dental problems in your future and keep tabs on your health in general. If we catch a problem early during your cleaning appointment, your treatment is likely to be more comfortable, less complicated, and less expensive.