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Exams & Cleanings
On average, seeing a dentist twice a year works well for many people. Some can get away with fewer visits. Others may need more frequent visits. People with very little risk of cavities or gum disease can do fine seeing their dentist just once a year. People with a high risk of dental disease might need to visit every three or four months, or more. This high-risk group includes:
- Pregnant women
- People with current gum disease
- People with a weak immune response to bacterial infection
- People who tend to get cavities or build up plaque
The schedule for any person may change during a lifetime. In times of stress or illness, you may need to see the dentist more often than usual. The dentist may help you to fight off a temporary infection or treat changes in your mouth.
You should floss to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. This bacteria lives in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria your toothbrush can’t get to. That’s the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. Brushing without flossing is like washing only half your face. The other half remains dirty.
If you do not floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only your dentist can remove tartar.
Ask Dr. Mistos to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at your next cleaning appointment.
The physical process for digital radiography is actually similar to traditional dental X-rays that use film: With digital radiography, a sensor is inserted into your mouth to capture images of your teeth — but that’s where the similarities between conventional and digital dental X-rays end. Although it resembles the film used for bitewings and other X-rays, the digital sensor is electronic and connected to a computer. Once the X-ray is taken, the image is quickly projected on a screen for your Dr. Mitsos to view, saving you time in the dental chair.
Why Do I Need X-Rays So Often?
Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when Dr. Mitsos examines your mouth. An X-ray examination may reveal:
- small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
- infections in the bone
- periodontal (gum) disease
- abscesses or cysts
- developmental abnormalities
- some types of tumors
Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and often unnecessary discomfort. Dental radiographs can detect damage to oral structures not visible during a regular exam. If you have a hidden tumor, radiographs may even help save your life. Your dentist will evaluate your need for radiographs based on the conditions present in your mouth. The schedule for radiographs can vary with age, risk for disease or for evaluation of growth and development. There are many benefits to having dental radiographs taken. Any additional questions or concerns should be discussed with your Dr. Mitsos.
Dental sealants are preventative restorations aimed at covering up those areas of the tooth most likely to get cavities. Tooth decay typically starts in difficult to clean pits and grooves of teeth. Sealants are bonded into those pits and grooves to prevent bacteria from accumulating in them. Don’t worry, this procedure is completely painless and we don’t even have to numb the area.
Dr. Mitsos recommends sealants are mostly for children as their 6 and 12 year old molars come in, although, anyone with deep pits and grooves could benefit from dental sealants.
Why Should I Go to the Dentist Regularly?
Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They go only when they have a problem. We call this “crisis treatment” as opposed to “preventive treatment.” While these patients may feel they are saving money, it usually ends up costing much more in both dollars and time. The reason for this is that most dental problems do not have any symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. A simple example is tooth decay. We often hear, “Nothing hurts…I don’t have any problems.”
But tooth decay does not hurt! Until, that is, it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. By that time, root canal treatment followed by a post, buildup, and crown are often necessary, instead of the filling which could have been placed several years earlier when the cavity was just beginning to form. Your dentist can usually detect a cavity 3-4 years before it develops any symptoms. It is not uncommon to see a patient with a huge cavity and who has never felt a thing! This is why regular checkups are important – so why not schedule yours today?
Sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against any sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using a desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special compounds that can be applied in office to the roots of your tooth to reduce—if not eliminate—the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.
Fluoride is added to public drinking water to prevent tooth decay. Children who do not drink fluorinated public water because their homes use water from a private well often take fluoride tablets to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is added to toothpaste and mouthwashes so it can be applied directly to the teeth to prevent tooth decay. Occasionally, Dr. Mistos will recommend fluoride treatments for adults, as well.
When Should I Take My Child for His/Her First Check-Up?
In order to prevent dental problems, your child should the dentist when the first tooth appears. or no later than his or her first birthday. Dr. Mitsos will make sure everything is developing proper and we will begin to introduce the child to dentist making visits easier later in life. We will also discuss dietary recommendations and proper oral hygiene for your child.