Your oral health is important to your overall health and well-being. In fact, there is evidence of a significant correlation between gum disease and cardiovascular disease, stroke, and respiratory illness, so it’s important to make dental visits part of a healthy lifestyle.
A sparkling smile is just the beginning. Not only do regular dental check-ups involve thorough periodontal therapy, but a full examination that can detect and stop problems before they start. A consistent oral care routine can help spot cavities, detect changes to gums and other soft tissues in the mouth, and monitor bone structure.
Oral care routines differ for everyone, and the recommended frequency of your visits will depend on your age and personal needs. Generally, you can expect your dental professional to recommend visiting twice a year. During a check-up, there are several things your dental team will do to make sure you are equipped to make good choices about your oral health moving forward.
Analyzing dental X-ray scans
The Canadian Dental Association recommends oral X-rays be taken every 24 to 36 months during a routine check-up. X-rays will help your dentist detect any problems below the surface of your teeth and gums.
- First-time patients may be unaware of dental issues invisible to the naked eye, such as cavities forming in or between teeth. An X-ray will help bring those issues to light. Regular patients will be able to follow up with their dentist about any detected improvements or ongoing issues spotted between visits.
- A dental X-ray is quick and safe. X-rays do generate small amounts of radiation, so your dental care provider will drape an apron around your neck to protect the rest of your body. You will be given a specially designed piece of plastic to bite down on, which promotes proper jaw alignment for the X-ray.
- Your dentist can show you comparisons between earlier scans and the current state of your mouth. Seeing is believing—you will be shown “below the surface” aspects of your oral health, such as the state of restorative work (e.g., dental implants, previously filled cavities, or root canals), the anatomy of your jaw and sinuses, and the alignment of your teeth.
Discussing your dental history alongside X-ray findings
Your history is important
Your dental check-up isn’t complete without your care team getting to know you and your concerns.
- If you’re at your first routine check-up, your dental professional will talk to you about your dental history and overall health. Returning patients will be asked for updates about their health since the last visit, such as changes to medication, new medical conditions, and/or any challenges experienced with their oral care routine at home.
- Alongside your X-rays, your history is a powerful tool for your dental health team. X-ray scans confirm symptoms of oral health and reveal past hygiene habits (e.g., a patient who reports ongoing stress may show signs of bruxism—teeth grinding—on an X-ray). These pictures help inform your dentist of any concerns so that they can provide you with the necessary treatment options to help.
Performing teeth cleaning
Get to know your hygienist
A dental hygienist is a person who will perform periodontal therapy, otherwise known as teeth cleaning. Professional oral care goes beyond your regular twice-a-day brushing and flossing routine at home. It involves several steps:
- Bacterial decontamination: Lewis Estates Dental Centre uses AIRFLOW® technology, a method that sprays a jet stream of air, powder, and water to deliver a gentle yet effective cleaning on and between your teeth. The process removes damaged or infected tissue and surface stains, which helps prevent gingivitis and tooth decay.
- Removal of plaque and tartar build-up: During a process called scaling, your dental professional will gently scrape plaque and tartar off your teeth using a special tool.
- Floss: Much as you do at home, your teeth will be flossed to remove any bacteria between them and around your gums.
- Fluoride: Your teeth may be given a topical fluoride treatment to help strengthen your tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
What’s it going to cost?
Affordability is often cited as a barrier to obtaining regular dental care. While it is true there are costs involved in treatment, making an investment in your oral care can reap benefits for your health.
If you are wondering what your benefits cover, reach out to the Lewis Estates Dental Centre administration team, and we can help you find out what coverage you have.
Examining dental health
The whole picture
During your routine visit, your dentist will conduct a full exam.
- Your teeth will be assessed visually to check for any abnormalities in teeth movement, misalignment, or fractures. Your dentist will check your gums, cheeks, and tongue for signs of redness, swelling, or lesions. They will also measure the depth of spaces between your gums and teeth, the results of which could indicate the start or progression of gum disease.
- Symptoms of mouth cancer will also be looked for. Your dentist will palpate the soft tissues in your mouth to check for lumps. They may also [ADC9] use a hand-held device designed to help identify abnormalities that may be hard otherwise to detect.
Sharing dental exam results and dental hygiene recommendations
Connecting you to your health
It’s important to trust your dental care team. You should feel comfortable giving and receiving information from your provider, and leave your appointment feeling respected and encouraged to maintain healthy habits at home.
- Good communication is key. At the end of (and often during) a routine dental check-up, your hygienist and dentist will summarize what your exam revealed. They will also provide you with tips on how to maintain good dental hygiene between visits, and what next steps may need to be taken if any issues were found.
- Before you leave the clinic, your dental team will help you make your next appointment to ensure your check-up schedule stays on track. They will also help answer questions you may have about your dental insurance coverage. For individuals who don’t have comprehensive coverage, the team will help you find solutions to maintain your oral health while being easier on your budget.
We’re here for you
Dr. Bains and the team at Lewis Estates Dental Centre aim to create a safe, welcoming health care environment where they provide the best dental care possible. Their years of experience and commitment to open communication will help you feel empowered in the decisions you make. Take control of your oral health and contact the team today.