Cleanings and Periodontal Treatments
Prevention is the cornerstone of modern dentistry: it’s always better to prevent a dental problem than to fix it. Keeping our mouths hygienic and presentable not only helps us look our best, it can also help prevent many problems, both orally and systemically. Chronic inflammation associated with untreated gum disease or long-term dental abscesses has been associated with heart disease, infections and loss of bone mass. Tobacco, alcohol use, diabetes, pregnancy, periodontal disease, poor oral hygiene and certain medical conditions are some of the many factors that place individuals at a greater risk of developing oral diseases. Such individuals should return for dental checkups more than twice a year.
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. For this reason, the American Dental Association recommends two annual “checkup” visits for most adults and children. If you suffer from periodontal disease, a chronic condition in which the gum and bones around the teeth break down, it is important to see you dentist every three months in order to avoid or postpone the pain, loosening of teeth, and ultimate tooth loss that this disease can cause.
What happens during my first checkup?
At your first visit, the dentist and hygienist will conduct a visible examination of your teeth and gums. If you do not have recent x-rays, we will likely need to take some in order to obtain a comprehensive view of your mouth. Based on the x-rays and a clinical exam, the hygienist and dentist will make any necessary treatment recommendations. If your gums are healthy, a cleaning can be completed at your first visit. The hygienist will use special instruments to remove any hardened plaque (tartar) and polish your teeth. Individuals with healthy gums should return two times a year for checkups, to ensure that any problems that arise can be caught in the early stages.
If you suffer from periodontal disease, in which the gums are loose around the teeth and there is significant inflammation or buildup, you will likely need to return for a special kind of cleaning (a “deep cleaning”) in which you are numbed, so the hygienist can meticulously clean under your gums. Periodontal disease is an irreversible disease that is caused by certain bacteria in the mouth that replicates at a faster pace. If you are diagnosed with periodontitis, it is important to have more frequent dental visits (every three months), to remove that bacteria, and prevent any further destruction of the supporting structures of your teeth and gums. There are many contributing factors that can lead to the severity of this disease that our dental professionals can discuss with you. Some examples include: smoking, systemic diseases and poor oral habits. This disease can be costly and can ultimately lead to the loss of your teeth, and it’s important to stress how oral hygiene homecare plays an important role. If you have periodontitis, we will provide treatment options, and help support and educate you on this disease process.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring and safe element with many benefits for the teeth, and it can be easily and painlessly applied as a varnish at the end of your cleaning visit.
We recommend fluoride for all patients ages two and older, but it can be especially beneficial for patients who have sensitivity or who have had many fillings. Fluoride is also especially important for those who have a history of dry mouth (xerostomia), radiation, or eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
Is fluoride safe? Yes! In the United States, community water fluoridation has been practiced for more than 70 years, and over 120 of the world’s leading health, dental, and medical organizations praise the success and benefits of fluoridation. In fact, public water fluoridation is often cited as one of the most successful public health interventions of this century! While there is a lot of misinformation available about the safety of fluoride use, it is important to remember that expert consensus and an enormous body of sound, scientific evidence continue to find that fluoridated water is safe and does not contribute to or cause illness or disease.
Oral cancer Screenings
Oral cancer can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. Signs of oral cancer include lesions in the mouth that do not heal for more than 2 weeks, worsening soreness in the back of your throat, lumps or bumps that grow over time, and problems with swallowing, chewing, or moving your tongue. If you use tobacco products, have a family history of cancer, or drink significant amounts of alcohol, you may be at increased risk of developing oral cancer.
At Sardina Dental Group, we complete oral cancer screenings at every cleaning appointment. A visual exam is done of all sides of the tongue, cheeks, and lips, floor of mouth, hard palate, soft palate, throat and neck. If anything suspicious is found, you may be referred to an Oral Surgeon for a biopsy of the area.
• Dental sealants are a clear and protective coating that is applied to the biting surfaces of the 6 and 12-year molars, ideally soon after they erupt. This protective coating shields the teeth from harmful plaque and bacteria. Sealants are most commonly placed on children’s permanent back teeth that are more prone to cavities because of the deep grooves that are present on the newly erupted teeth that the toothbrush is not able to clean.
• During a sealant procedure, the dentist, dental hygienist or expanded functions dental assistant (EFDA) first cleans the tooth with pumice, a gritty material that removes plaque and bacterial from the pits and grooves. After the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, a slightly acidic solution is applied to the tooth to create a rough surface that helps the sealant bond. Once the tooth is completely dry, the bonding agent is placed followed by the sealant material. After curing the sealant with a specialized light, it becomes a hard, thin layer covering the treated portions of the tooth. Despite the heavy pressures on teeth during chewing each day, dental sealants may remain effective for five years or longer, although sealants do wear naturally and may become damaged over time.