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Dental Exams & Cleanings

Medical treatment at the dentist office.

Dental Exam

A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by your dentist at your initial dental visit.  At regular check-up exams, your dentist and hygienist will include the following:

  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss.  X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.

Professional Dental Cleaning

Professional dental cleanings are usually performed by Registered Dental Hygienists. Cleanings can be one of three different types:

  1. Prophylaxis: 
    • A dental prophylaxis is a cleaning procedure performed to thoroughly clean the teeth. Prophylaxis is an important dental treatment for preventing periodontal disease and gingivitis.
  2. Full Mouth Debridement: 
    • Full mouth debridement is a gross prophylaxis performed on patients that have bleeding, calculus and/or inflammation and the hygienist or dentist cannot accurately probe the gums for disease.
  3. Root Planing and Scaling: 
    • Root planning and scaling is a therapeutic cleaning usually performed with local injections of anesthesia. It is performed on patients with active periodontal disease and consists of:
      • Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is a hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
      • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a stick, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
      • Teeth polishing: remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.