Regular Dental Visits are SO Much More than Just a Cleaning
When a new patient calls Cornerstone Dental, they will often request “just a cleaning”. Although we are happy to schedule a cleaning with a hygienist, it is important that the visit also includes an initial exam with the dentist. We want to clarify why this is truly more than just a cleaning.
Did you know that your biannual dental visit is the ONLY routine healthcare procedure that is recommended MORE than once a year?
Regular preventative dental visits are much more than just a cleaning. Areas of concern addressed at a typical “cleaning and check-up” can include:
- Overall Health: As part of a comprehensive dental exam we review your up-to-date health history and medications, and how they may be affecting your oral health, as well as your overall health. A thorough dental exam not only allows us to identify decay and your current dental status, but it allows us the opportunity to notice a range of possible health issues. We are concerned about much more than just saving your teeth. Dr. Jody Griffin of Cornerstone indicates “The mouth is the gateway to the body and soul, we are concerned not only about your oral health, but about your overall well-being.”
- Baseline records: Whether you have records forwarded from a previous dental office, or if we are starting with fresh records, it is important that we gather complete and accurate information as to your dental health status. This allows us to adequately provide you with top quality dental care, as well as continuity of care in the event that we need to communicate with any other doctor that you are working with. Of course, we adhere to Cornerstone Dental Privacy Practices with diligent standards and precautions as well as complying with all state and federal requirements.
- X-Rays: We will take x-rays or other diagnostic procedures as needed to assist in evaluation or detection of decay or other issues that may not visible in the mouth to the naked eye.
- Head and Neck: Most people may not even be aware that a comprehensive dental exam includes a thorough head and neck examination which is an essential aspect in detecting early skin cancers or enlarged lymph nodes. In addition they may determine the presence of any structural or functional anomalies or even signs of physical abuse. There are many chronic or systemic disease states that may be observed during a routine dental exam.
- Oral Screening: One of the most critical aspects of the dentist or hygienist’s evaluation is that your entire mouth (on and around tongue, gums, soft and hard palate, inside of cheeks and the opening of your throat) is thoroughly and carefully examined for gum disease, growths, lesions, and any abnormalities that may affect your general health. There are a large number of people whose lives have been saved by this process. Click here to read about one story. Did you know that your dental team are likely the only medical providers screening for oral cancer? Unless you see an oral surgeon routinely or ask your MD to take a look in the mouth, your hygienist and dentist are the only ones looking out for this potentially life-threatening form of cancer.
- Prophylaxis or “Prophy”: The process of a dental cleaning with a hygienist is definitely more than just a cleaning. Most everyone experiences plaque buildup in hard-to-reach places, even with diligent daily flossing and brushing. This dental plaque hardens through a mineralization process resulting in the formation of tartar or calculus. A thorough dental cleaning performed by a dental hygienist will gently remove the calculus build. Calculus cannot be removed by a toothbrush, it can only be removed by a dental professional.
- Appearance and Fresh Breath: During the prophylaxis it is also possible to remove deposits, unsightly stains and yellowing, resulting in a more attractive confident smile. In addition, bad breath or halitosis can have many different causes, but one of the most common reasons are food particles and bacteria. Removing the plaque, calculus and bacteria noticeably improves both appearance and fresh breath.
- Dental Evaluation: During the dental exam, the dentist will also thoroughly assess the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, evaluate the need for tooth restoration or replacement and check the bite and jaw for functionality. If there are prosthetic appliances like dentures, partials or bridges, they will also check the fit and see if adjustments or changes are needed.
- Discussion: The dentist and hygienist will discuss findings with you, including preventative measures you can take to improve and protect your oral health. They may demonstrate proper cleaning technique, assess your need for fluoride, and discuss options for any restorations and/or replacements that may be recommended. They may also recommend a time to return for a follow-up visit, which may be more frequent than the typical 6 months in some cases.
Regular visits to the dentist, (which consist of exams, x-rays and cleanings by a dental hygienist) are considered prevention. As you can see it is definitely more than just a cleaning. It is the dental aspect of a lifestyle pattern for total health. These habits can lead to long term oral health, lower dental costs, a bright smile, fresh breath, and the feeling of confidence and pride. Make sure that you are embracing your total health, and visiting your dental office regularly. If you don’t have a regular dentist, Cornerstone Dental Arts is accepting new patients and would be happy to schedule an exam and cleaning to get you started. Call 865-531-7117, or click here to answer your questions, or schedule an appointment.