Scheduling regular visits to a family dentist is an important part of maintaining good oral health. During routine checkups, patients can expect a visual examination along with occasional X-rays. In addition, the dental team will conduct a series of oral hygiene procedures to keep the teeth and gums strong and prevent decay and disease. While brushing and flossing at home are necessary for dental health, there is no substitute for a professional cleaning.
Common types of oral hygiene services
A family dentist may customize treatments based on a patient's age or current oral health situation. Still, most can expect the following services at a six-month checkup.
To begin, a dentist or hygienist uses a variety of instruments, such as a scaler and periodontal curette, to remove layers of tartar and plaque built up on the surfaces of the teeth and along the gum line. This process, known as scaling, is one of the most important aspects of a dental cleaning, as it removes harmful bacteria and helps prevent gum disease. Some offices may use an ultrasonic instrument for scaling instead of traditional manual tools.
Tooth cleaning and polishing
Once scaling is complete, a flossing may sweep out any remaining debris before the teeth are cleaned and polished. In some younger patients, only a toothbrush is used. For most other patients, the dental professional uses a polishing brush with a high-grit toothpaste to finish the cleaning.
Research has shown that fluoride plays a major role in preventing tooth decay. People are encouraged to brush with a fluoride toothpaste on a daily basis. Most public drinking water is also treated with fluoride to help improve oral health. However, a family dentist may recommend a fluoride treatment once a year or more as an extra layer of protection. This is especially true for younger patients or those with a history of dental caries.
When a patient skips regular cleanings or is showing signs of gum disease, a more thorough periodontal cleaning may be administered. This usually involves root planing, a process similar to scaling, which helps remove plaque deposits below the gum line along the root. In some offices, a family dentist may use laser therapy treatments to stimulate gum tissues and remove bacterial buildup.
The importance of a professional cleaning
A regular dental cleaning helps protect the mouth against a host of complications, including:
- Gum disease
- Severe tooth decay
- Tooth loss
Delaying an appointment by even just a few months can significantly increase the risk of developing dental problems. Scheduling regular professional hygiene treatments and maintaining good home care helps lower the risk of developing other serious conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. Patients can also enjoy a whiter, more beautiful smile and fresher breath.
Seeing a family dentist on a routine basis is vital to good oral health. At each visit, patients can expect numerous hygiene procedures to clean and protect the teeth and gums. When coupled with healthy home care habits, these techniques can help patients enjoy a healthier and more appealing smile for years to come.
Request an appointment or call Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of the North Shore at 781-443-8268 for an appointment in our Swampscott office.
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