Prevention helps avoid serious and costly dental problems and is the key to having a healthy, confident, and beautiful smile. Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene habits and is continued in the dental office by the efforts of your dentist and dental hygienist to promote, restore, and maintain your oral health. This is achieved through regular dental exams, x-rays, and cleanings. Sealants and fluoride are also great preventive treatments that help protect the teeth.

On your visit to our office, you can expect a comprehensive exam by your dentist. We will obtain all records to evaluate your needs and formulate an individualized treatment plan that includes any restorative needs and a hygiene diagnosis. You will then be appointed to one of our hygienists to start you on your way to better oral health. Our dentists and hygienists strive to develop a trusting, long-term relationship with you.

Dental hygiene Q/A- Answered by one of our own hygienists  

Q: How often are in office cleanings recommended and why?

A: The general school of thought is at least every 6 months for a healthy patient. However, this recommendation is modified for each patient as their individualized needs are taken into account. Some factors that can influence a patient’s recommended frequency of cleanings are: underlying medical conditions, previous history of periodontal disease, high decay rates, the presence of orthodontic appliances, and poor home care habits.

Q: If I practice excellent dental hygiene at home, why do I need to schedule preventative dental cleanings?

A:  Although your oral health care at home may be excellent, it cannot always overcome other issues that may be present and can only be addressed in a proper in-office cleaning. This includes high decay rate, high rate of tartar accumulation, the ability to adequately clean underneath the gumline, previous history of gum disease, or hygiene issues brought on by medical conditions such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders.

Q: What are the different types of cleanings and how are they diagnosed?

A: Actually, there is only one type of cleaning- the dental prophylaxis (prophy for short), which is for patients who exhibit a healthy mouth. A healthy mouth means no bleeding, mobility of teeth, and no bone or gum problems.

For patients who do not meet the requirements for a preventive prophylaxis cleaning, they are moved into a periodontal hygiene category. This typically starts with a Scaling and Root Planing (deep cleaning) appointment, and is then followed by Periodontal Maintenance appointments every 3-4 months.

Q: What should I expect from my cleaning appointment for each type of appointment?

A: In a prophylaxis cleaning, done on patients with a healthy mouth, we clean and polish your teeth ABOVE the gumline, and check your gums and teeth for overall health. Also, any adjustments needed to your homecare routine will be discussed.

In a Periodontal Maintenance appointment, performed on patients who have periodontal disease, either active or inactive, is meant to support the progress obtained with previous periodontal procedures (scaling and root planning, tissue grafts, etc). We do complete scaling ABOVE and BELOW the gumline in conjunction with a thorough tissue evaluation, and of course polish the teeth. The patient’s oral hygiene will be evaluated and any adjustments in homecare recommended. Oral hygiene aids that may be beneficial will be introduced and given out to the patient to try at home.

A  Scaling and Root Planing (deep cleaning) appointment, is usually completed in two visits that are approximately 1.5-2 hours each. For patient comfort, we offer anesthesia at the start of the appointment. We will then use a combination of ultrasonic and hand scalers to remove any deposits on the roots and disturb the bacterial flora underneath the gumline. On a case by case basis, we may also place an antibiotic in the pockets of certain teeth to help in the healing process.

Other hygiene appointments not always associated with a cleaning can include the placement of dental sealants or bleaching procedures.

Q: I recently had a deep cleaning, now what?

A: After scaling and root planning you can expect to be placed on Supportive Periodontal Therapy, or Periodontal Maintenance. This is a therapeutic treatment designed to support, maintain, and monitor the tissues after the deep cleaning procedure. Read above for what is performed during this appointment. Patients with periodontal disease, whether active or inactive, show the aftereffects of the disease process. Bone loss, combined with pocketing around the teeth, can overwhelm the patient’s immune system and begin the further breakdown of the remaining bone and tissue support. Periodontal maintenance provides a higher level of care in treating dental disease.

Q: What are sealants and why should I get them for myself or my child?

A:  Sealants are a preventative procedure we perform to protect our teeth from dental decay. The sealant material is placed on the chewing surface of posterior (back) teeth, or on the tongue side of anterior (front) teeth. We use sealants to protect deep grooves in the teeth that are hard to brush or access with a toothbrush. We recommend sealants on all healthy teeth for kids and adults!

Q: If I brush twice a day and avoid sugary drinks/food, do I still need to floss?

A:  YES!! Contrary to recent reports in the news, daily flossing is the best way to prevent decay between your teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Proper technique is critical as well, so be sure to adapt the floss like a “C” shape and wrap it against both the front and back of each tooth surface.

Q: Do I still need in-office cleanings if I have prosthetics? (Bridges, Implants, Dentures)

A:  Absolutely! Bridges are supported by your natural teeth, so they are still susceptible to decay. It’s critical that if you are wearing dentures, or have implants, you have oral cancer screenings and check the condition of your appliances to be sure that they are still functioning properly. Implants also function like regular teeth and are vulnerable to periodontal disease, so regular cleanings, x-rays and check-ups are crucial!

Q: Why is a waterpik recommended?

A: Because we know that most patients do not floss at least twice per day as recommended, with the proper technique, the waterpik is the perfect alternative to ensure proper cleaning between teeth and below the gumline.

Waterpiks can be bought in our office. $15 rebate available

Home Care Tips for a Fabulous Smile:

  • Brush/floss at least twice a day
  • Brush with the radio on and brush for an entire song to ensure you are brushing for at least two full minutes.
  • Use a soft bristled toothbrush
  • Keep oral hygiene products with you at work.
  • Avoid drinks/food high in sugar.
  • Use a waterpik