Twice-yearly dental visits are important – they can be quite effective at catching gum disease in their early, reversible stages. Cavities can be filled on a preemptive basis rather than possibly having to do any emergency work. Still, it can leave you wondering – what exactly are the steps?
This can be like driving somewhere – sometimes things are just done on autopilot and the appointment goes smoothly. But if pressed one might not recall the exact steps that were taken.
The first thing to remember is that while you may often see the same hygienist and dentist each time and remember them well, they see many patients a day over the interval of your six-month visits. There may be some general familiarity, but any specifics should be reiterated each visit.
What specifics are those? Things like any particular medication that you take, since some of those can cause conditions like dry mouth. Also, remind them of you have diabetes or any heart disease. They will have this in their records but it never hurts to reinforce it in their minds.
The next step is dependent on how recently you had X-rays taken. If it was around six months ago, then this is usually skipped. The usual rule of thumb is yearly, but the condition of your teeth also play a part. Your dentist may do traditional or digital X-rays – with the digital ones being much clearer and faster.
Your dentist or hygienist will recline your dental chair so that they can get an optimal view of your mouth. Depending on what they see beforehand or if you request it, they may apply a topical anesthetic that numbs your gum area. That makes the cleaning much easier for them and likely much less anxiety-inducing for you.
They will do a quick check of your teeth, using a sharp instrument to quickly poke each one. If it sticks, it means there’s a good chance of tooth decay. They also look for signs of gum disease like deeper spaces in the gums between the teeth.
Another thing that they will be on the lookout for is any changes to your cheeks, face, throat, or tongue. This is to rule out possible cancers.
The cleaning itself is fairly straightforward. The hygienist will insert a suction tube to keep particular areas of the mouth free of saliva so they can see everything that they are doing. Usually, they use an electric pick that scrapes away tartar that’s at the gumline.
Once the cleaning is finished, the dentist or hygienist will typically put on a fluoride paste to make the teeth shine – and if the cleaning was done by a hygienist, the dentist will usually come in and do a once-over to ensure that everything is in good shape. It’s basically like a doctor double-checking a resident’s work at a hospital.
If both the hygienist and dentist see that everything is in good shape, then they may go over some basic pointers about brushing and flossing and may even suggest a certain type of mouthwash to strengthen your teeth. After that, it’s usually a handshake and time to set up your next appointment.
On the other hand, if something was found, a much earlier visit may be required. Things like tooth extraction, cavity-filling or root canals may be on the menu, but dental technology has made all of these things become quite routine.
This aspect of dental work is part of what the staff at Acadia Dental & Dentures does each day. While patients do come for dentures or dental implants, basic tooth care is also very important.
Acadia Dental and Dentures
1303 Pennsylvania Ave.
Hagerstown, MD 21740
Phone: (301) 797-2538
490 Prospect Blvd.
Frederick, MD 21701
Phone: (301) 662-1760