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. Britany and Maggie, our awesome dental hygienists at Buffalo Prairie Dental, 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
- Appropriate Digital x-rays
- Measuring of the pockets between your teeth and gums
- Professional cleaning of your teeth
- Topical application of fluoride for both adults and children
- An Oral Cancer Screening (once a year)
During a visual exam, your dentist will use an intraoral camera with sophisticated magnification and lighting to see all surface areas inside your mouth. You will then be able to sit side by side with us to look at those photographs on the computer monitor to discuss various treatment options.
Your dental team looks not only for cracked and decayed teeth, but also for growths and sores on the roof and floor of your mouth, tongue, lips, gums, and the mucous membranes that line your cheeks and gums. Then your dental team will check the lymph nodes of your head, jaw and neck for pain, tenderness and flexibility.
Digital X-rays: Digital X-rays detect dental problems that cannot be found during a visual exam. We use Digital X-rays that provide instant results and emit 90 percent less radiation than the old traditional X-rays taken years ago. Dr KJ Sturhahn and your hygienist will determine how often you need to have Digital X-rays based on your dental history and needs.
Gingival Pocket Exam
Healthy teeth require healthy gums. A gingival pocket exam determines the presence or risk of gum (periodontal) disease. A gingival pocket is the space between your tooth and gum where you get popcorn kernels caught. This pocket should only be 2 or 3 mm deep and pockets deeper than that may indicate the presence of gum disease requiring more involved treatment.
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 and bone loss.
- 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 smoothes 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 debris 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 break down, 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
Infants & Small Children
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child’s first visit to the dentist be around age three unless any of these dental health risk factors exist:
- Sleeping with a cup or bottle
- Thumb sucking
- Teeth staining
- Down Syndrome
Children’s Oral Hygiene
When your child’s teeth begin to erupt, wipe them daily with a moist washcloth to remove tooth plaque.
As your child grows more teeth, use a soft child’s toothbrush with non-fluoride toothpaste (like Baby OraGel) until your child is able to spit out the toothpaste.
When your child is ready to use fluoridated toothpaste, use only a small pea-size amount on the toothbrush. Swallowing too much fluoridated toothpaste can lead to staining of children’s teeth (dental fluorosis).
Teaching Good Hygiene to Kids
It’s never too early to learn how to care for your teeth and gums.