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About Preventive Hygiene

Routine oral examinations and hygiene cleanings at your dentist's office combined with a thorough at-home oral hygiene routine can help you prevent dental issues and keep your smile healthy.

Preventive Hygiene FAQs

  • Why do I need to visit my dentist every 6 months?

    Prevention is a key component to achieving a healthy smile. Regular visits to the dentist allow your team of dental professionals to monitor your oral health and watch for early signs of developing oral health issues.

    These routine visits to your dental office also give your hygienist an opportunity to remove the potentially damaging buildup of plaque and tartar from your teeth, that could otherwise lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

  • What is fluoride?

    Fluoride is a natural mineral that can be used to help to rebuild minerals found in tooth enamel in order to help prevent or reverse tooth decay.

    If your dentist believes that you or your child face an increased risk of tooth decay a fluoride treatment may be recommended.

  • What is involved in a hygiene cleaning?

    A routine appointment for preventive dental care is typically divided into 2 parts, the dental examination and the hygiene cleaning. The order these occur in can differ from one appointment to another.

    In many cases, your appointment will begin by having your teeth professionally cleaned by your dental hygienist. To start the cleaning process, your hygienist will use a scaler to remove any plaque buildup and tartar. Next, a polisher topped with coarse toothpaste, may be used to remove any remaining stains or plaque. This will be followed by a thorough flossing of your teeth and gums to ensure that your mouth is as clean as possible.

    Once your cleaning is complete your dentist will come in to the treatment room to do the examination. In some cases, X-rays will be taken, and the dentist will examine your gums and assign a score to each area from 0-4 based on the health of your gums. The health and overall condition of each tooth will also be examined and recorded. If any issues are detected your dentist will take the time to educate you on your dental health and recommend any treatments that they feel are required.

  • Are dental X-rays safe?

    X-rays allow your dentist to spot dental problems that would be difficult to detect with the naked eye. This technology means that often dental issues can be treated while still in the earliest stages before symptoms become more severe and issues such as tooth decay and gum disease reach advanced stages.

    While dental X-rays do involve some radiation, the exposure levels are so low that they are generally considered safe for children and adults. Digital X-rays (digital radiography) may reduce radiation exposure for both patients and the dentists by as much as 90%. 

    When you are about to have a dental X-ray your dentist will also place a lead bib over your chest, abdomen, and pelvic region to help prevent any unnecessary radiation exposure to your vital organs. In some cases, a thyroid collar may also be used.

  • What is oral cancer screening?

    Oral cancer can affect any part of the mouth or surrounding tissues. At each of your routine preventive examinations, your dentist may take the time to check for signs of oral cancer that could otherwise be missed. 

    When performing oral cancer screening your dentist will check your face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer. If anything of concern is detected your dentist will speak to you about further testing and next steps.

    Some dental practices are equipped with an oral cancer screening device called a VELscope which uses natural tissue fluorescence to help your dentist see abnormalities not visible to the naked eye. 

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