Dental exams are typically done in conjunction with regular hygiene appointments and have often been viewed as a quick “look-see” by the doctor. Many even think that the dentist is simply checking the hygienists work. This is a common misconception that can’t be further from the truth. Although a dental exam may appear short from the patient’s perspective, the dental exam is a critical component to the maintenance of our patients’ oral and overall health.
The dentist will use a systematic approach to address any concerns our patients may have, thoroughly inspect all surfaces of every tooth, assess the health of the surrounding gums and tissues, screen for oral cancer, and use new or previous x-rays to assist in the diagnosis.
- Complete Patient Exams: For patients that are new to our clinic or those who have been here before but never received a complete exam or patients who have been at the clinic and have had a significant amount of work done, will be encouraged to have a complete patient exam. The exam is a thorough analysis of all the teeth, gums, and other anatomy of the head and neck. During this exam we also take the opportunity to collect sufficient data such as x-rays and perio charting, which will allow us to detect findings like cavities and gum disease (periodontal disease).
When you visit East Village Dental, or goal is to make sure you leave with the best possible education about your own individual oral health.
- Recall Exams: If a patient has been to our clinic in the past and has had a new patient exam before, they will be receiving a recall exam when they come in for their regular hygiene appointments. We recommend that patients have a recall exam every 6 months so that the dentist can assess any changes in your oral health and stop a disease pattern like tooth decay or gum disease as early as possible.
- Emergency/Specific Exams: A particular type of exam that focuses on a single area of concern. The purpose of the exam will be to address something like a chipped tooth, which is an esthetic concern to the patient or to locate the source of infection and pain. This isolated area of treatment is likely diagnosed and planned after one of these exams.
Having regular dental exams done every 6 months plays a huge role in the prevention of disease progression. Without a dental exam, some things like dental decay and gum disease can go unnoticed as they do not always have symptoms of pain associated with them. It is much easier on our patients’ well-being and finances to address issues early on rather than waiting for the situation to get worse and ultimately making treatment more expensive and less predictable.
Digital X-Rays and Intra-Oral Photos
“Seeing is Believing,” is the moto at our office. We believe in showing our patients first hand any areas of concern within their mouth. At our practice we utilize top of the line technology in order to obtain the clearest images possible. Our digital x-rays provide patients with a lower dose of radiation and an instant image compared to the traditional film. The intra-oral camera we use in clinic is held like a pen and takes high quality photographs of your teeth and gums. We use these photos to augment our explanations of certain situations within your mouth. With our digital x-rays, intra-oral camera, and 3D imaging, we are able to SHOW and explain to patients exactly where we see the areas of interest and what we will be doing to correct the situation. Our dual computer screens located in every operatory, allow you to sit comfortably while the dentist takes the time to show you the images on the monitor in right in front of you.
Oral Hygiene Instruction
Proper home care and a good oral hygiene routine is crucial to maintaining a healthy smile. During our appointments we stress to all patients how important this is. Our role in the dental office is to give you the information and guidance to practice good oral hygiene at home and to treat conditions that arise when oral hygiene is less than ideal. Your role as a patient is to take this information and apply it to your lifestyle in order to maintain healthy teeth and gums for as long as possible.
Some of the things we recommend include:
- Using an ELECTRIC toothbrush with soft bristles at least twice a day. Electric toothbrushes have been proven to remove more plaque and will reduce the chances of the gums receding due to over-scrubbing with a manual toothbrush
- Use FLUORIDATED toothpaste and mouth wash. The more exposure to topical fluoride the better. Not only does it have antimicrobial properties but it also helps in remineralizing process of the teeth and protect against future tooth decay.
- FLOSSING at least once a day. It is very common to see tooth decay occurring in between the teeth where the toothbrush is not effective. Flossing alone does not necessarily reduce levels of decay but flossing with a good technique can. The proper technique is to fit the floss between the teeth, hug one of the teeth by creating a ‘C’ shape around it, and flossing in an up and down manner. You would then do the same thing to the neighboring tooth before pulling the floss out between the teeth.
- A HEALTHY DIET is important for the health of mouth as well as the whole body. Diets that are sufficient in all the major food groups will help ensure tissue health. It is also encouraged to reduce sugary snacks in order to reduce chances of tooth decay.
- SMOKING CESSATION is very important especially for those with periodontal disease as smoking will rapidly enhance the progression of the disease. For those without periodontal disease, smoking can significantly increase the risks of getting periodontal disease as well as certain oral cancers. Alcohol consumption should only be done with moderation for similar reasons.
- Regular MAINTENANCE including recall dental exams and professional cleanings. It is very important to follow the exam and hygiene frequency that is prescribed by your dentist and dental hygienist. Some hygiene appointments are recommended every 6 months and for some patients every 3 months depending on your unique needs. It is not to say your exam and hygiene intervals will not change in the future but are the ones recommended for you at your particular stage in maintaining oral health.
Sealants are a preventative measure to prevent excessive tooth decay in the grooves of teeth. They are a plastic resin like substance that flows into the grooves and hardens to prevent bacteria from being harbored within and out of reach from your toothbrush. Sealants are most commonly done in children whose adult teeth have recently erupted but can be done in older individuals as well. Sealants are recommended by the dentist to some patients who would benefit from additional protection.