Regular dental exams are a critical part of preventive health care and should be scheduled every 6 - 12 months, depending on your oral health.
During a dental exam, the dentist will check for cavities and gum disease. The exam includes evaluating your risk of developing other oral problems and checking your face, neck and mouth for abnormalities. A dental exam might also include dental X-rays (or other diagnostic procedures. It also gives your dentist a chance to provide tips on caring for your teeth and to detect oral health problems early, when they're most treatable.
Your dentist will likely also discuss your diet and oral hygiene habits, lifestyle factors that can affect oral health and possible cosmetic improvements to your teeth.
Regular dental exams help protect not just your oral health, but also your overall health. For instance, signs and symptoms of some systemic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and diabetes, might show up in the mouth first.
Even if you no longer have all your natural teeth, it's important to see your dentist for regular dental exams to maintain your oral health.
The first dental visit for children is recommended by 12 months of age, or within 6 months of the first tooth coming in. Generally, the first visit is to introduce children to the idea of going to the dentist, and help them feel comfortable.
The visit may include a full exam of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissues to check growth and development. The dentist may show you and your child proper home cleaning such as flossing, and advise you on the need for fluoride. The visit may also include X-rays to diagnose decay, depending on your child's age. X-rays are also used to see if the root of a jammed baby tooth may be affecting an adult tooth.
If possible, schedule morning appointments so young children are alert and fresh. Prepare a preschooler or older child for the visit by giving him or her a general idea of what to expect. Explain why it is important to go to the dentist. Build excitement and understanding. If you have dental anxieties, be careful not to relate those fears or dislikes to your child.
Professional dental cleanings give your hygienist an opportunity to compare your oral health to that of previous visits. If any issues are identified, immediate intervention can put you back on track to optimal oral health.
A professional cleaning is part of your total oral hygiene and involves the removal of dental plaque from teeth to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Dental hygienists can remove hardened deposits (tartar) not removed by routine cleaning.
Your dental hygienist can remove most of the stains that dull and discolour your teeth, so you’ll be left with a brighter, whiter smile.
Many dental plans cover cleanings, and regular cleanings and exams can save money on more costly future dental expenses.
Insufficient oral hygiene has been linked to several serious illnesses. Associated medical and dental issues include bone loss, cardiovascular disease, strokes, cancers, and many other problems. Brushing and flossing at home are essential, but to ensure teeth are healthy and thoroughly clean, you should schedule regular check-ups with your dentist and annual dental cleanings with your dental hygienist.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that builds strong teeth and prevents cavities by restoring minerals to tooth surfaces where bacteria may have eroded the enamel. It can also inhibit the growth of harmful oral bacteria and further prevent cavities.
Professional fluoride treatments are applied in the form of a highly concentrated rinse, foam, gel, or varnish. These treatments have more fluoride than what is in your water or toothpaste, and take only a few minutes to apply.
Children that are exposed to fluoride early on are less likely to develop cavities if it is combined with regular brushing and flossing at home.
Dental sealants are thin coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars) to prevent tooth decay. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from cavities by covering them with a protective shield that blocks out bacteria and food. Once applied, sealants protect against 80% of cavities for 2 years and continue to protect against 50% of cavities for up to 4 years.
Sealants are quick, easy, and painless. A tooth without a cavity is stronger and healthier than a tooth with a filling or untreated decay. Sealants are also less expensive and easier to apply than fillings.
Sealants prevent the most cavities when applied soon after permanent molars come into the mouth (around age 6 for 1st molars and age 12 for 2nd molars).
Sealants are most often placed in children and teenagers, since tooth decay can start soon after teeth come in. But adults can sometimes benefit from sealants too, because you never outgrow the risk for developing cavities. A sealant can be placed on a tooth that does not have a cavity in its pits and grooves.