The secret to a bright, healthy smile is actually no secret at all: brush, floss and get a professional dental exam at least once every six months. Professional dental exams are all about prevention – preventing existing problems from getting worse and preventing dental problems from developing in the future. Regular dental exams make it possible to identify and treat a problem in its earliest stage – which is not only good for your oral health but also good for your budget!
There's nothing to fear with a dental exam. Your teeth will be visually examined for signs of plaque, tartar and tooth decay. Your gums will also be examined for puffiness or discoloration, which are signs of gum disease. A full set of dental X-rays may also be taken during your dental exam, to enable your dentist to see below the surfaces of your teeth. Dental exams typically end with a dental cleaning, to remove surface stains and buildup.
Digital Dental X-Ray
Dental X-rays have come a long way. Todays dental X-rays are safer, faster, more comfortable and more informative than the X-rays of years past. Digital X-rays, one of the latest and most advanced dental technologies, produce high-quality images of your teeth that can be viewed instantly by you and your dentist on a LCD monitor. Digital X-rays reduce radiation by up to 90% and provide exceptional diagnostic information to ensure that potential problems are caught in their earliest stages. Intraoral photography is another alternative to traditional dental X-rays. With intraoral photography, problems such as cavities, fractures and discolorations in the teeth are captured through clear and sharp photographic images that are taken with a 35mm or digital camera.
No matter how often you brush and floss, plaque and tartar deposits can still build up on your teeth. A professional teeth cleaning is the single most effective way to remove these deposits and prevent them from causing more serious problems in the future. While a traditional teeth cleaning involves manually scraping away these deposits with special dental tools, advances in dental technologies now give you more options for teeth cleanings.
A laser teeth cleaning, also known as an ultrasonic cleaning, is a popular alternative to traditional teeth cleanings. With a laser teeth cleaning, an ultrasonic scaler (rather than a manual probe) is used to remove deposits, kill harmful microbes and eliminate bacteria around the teeth and gums through high-frequency sound waves. Many patients find laser teeth cleanings more comfortable than traditional teeth cleanings because they are quicker, quieter and pain-free.
A deep cleaning may be recommended if excessive plaque and tartar deposits have developed below the gum line. Deep cleanings, also known as scaling and root planing, involve a two-part process: first, the stubborn deposits are removed, and then the root surfaces are smoothened. A deep cleaning helps prevent periodontal disease and restores gum tissues to a healthy state.
A good key to good oral health is fluoride! Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent caries and can repair teeth in the very early, microscopic stages of the disease. There are two types of fluoride treatment: topical and systemic. Topical fluorides are applied directly to the tooth enamel. Examples include fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses, as well as fluoride treatments in the office. Systemic fluorides are ingested like fluoridated water and dietary fluoride supplemets. Maximum reduction in dental caries is achieved when fluoride is available both topically and systemically. Ask Dr. Marchese about the best treatment for you!
Sealants (Preventive & Diagnostic)
Though brushing and flossing help clear away food particles and plaque from the surfaces of your teeth, toothbrush bristles cannot always reach all the food matter that finds its way into the grooves and uneven surfaces of the teeth. Sealants can be applied as a preventive measure to smooth over rough or irregular areas to keep plaque from collecting, and cavities from forming. Sealants are typically made of a plastic resin which safely and quickly adheres to the teeth and, with proper care, can last for many years.
While the life of the sealant may be for a long time, your dentist may choose to periodically maintain the sealants by reapplying them. This is also necessary to ensure that any weak areas of the tooth's enamel are protected from decay which would otherwise lead to cavities and possibly tooth loss. Weak enamel, typically found during the x-ray portion of the annual dental exam, should not be treated lightly as it is a very vulnerable part of your oral health.