We all know that dentists tell us to get our teeth checked and cleaned twice a year. Sometimes more.
Of course the dentist will check for cavities and clean your teeth. And it is necessary that you attend to the health of your teeth and gums by having regular cleanings and exams. But there are other things that a good dentist will do at a check up to prevent future problems with teeth and gums and to maintain current health.
One of the first things a dentist should do is ask about your health history – not just about your teeth, but about any medical conditions, medications or illnesses. With this information a dentist can discover what might affect your teeth and mouth.
X-rays should be done to not only find cavities, tumors, cysts and bone loss, but also to determine tooth and root positions.
A good dentist will know how to check for signs of oral cancer – and an examination of your face, neck, lips, tongue, throat and gums will be done.
Maintenance of healthy gums is very important, and the dentist should evaluate the conditions of your gums and the bone around the teeth for any signs of disease.
Using specific dental tools, the dentist will look on all surfaces of the teeth for any decay.
Calculus should be removed. Calculus is hardened plaque which has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line, and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
Plaque is actually a colony of bacteria, mixed up with saliva and food. This sticky substance forms on teeth and much of it can be removed with brushing. It can inflame gums and thus begins periodontal disease. A dentist will ensure that all plaque is cleaned off the teeth.
Teeth should be polished to get rid of plaque and stains.
A dentist can and should recommend whatever is needed for you to maintain good oral health, such as special cleaning appliances, electric toothbrushes and various mouth rinses.
A dentist should discuss diet with you and recommend whatever is needed to improve dental health.
As you can see, a good dental exam and cleaning involves quite a lot more than just checking for cavities and polishing your teeth.