The dentist will first discuss any medical problems you may have, as this may have an effect on your dental treatment. After this, he will conduct a thorough examination of your mouth that will involve checking all your teeth and a basic assessment of the gingivae (gums). While the dentist checks your teeth he will look for any cavities (holes) and any deficiencies in your restorations (fillings) and crowns (caps). To help investigate any problems you may have, special tests such as radiographs (x-rays) may be needed. This will help the dentist identify any further decay or abnormalities present.
For children, six month check-ups are essential to monitor the development and health of their teeth. We can also give parents and children preventative advice regarding good oral hygiene techniques and dietary habits to maintain a healthy mouth.
After checking your teeth and gums, your dentist will assess all the soft tissues of your mouth. This is important for oral cancer screening since some diseases can manifest in the mouth which you may be unaware of. Your dentist will then discuss with you the dental treatment options available and develop a treatment plan. Your dentist may also discuss smoking, alcohol consumption and diet as all these affect your mouth and teeth. It is important to have a dental check up at least twice yearly, even if you have no teeth, as your dentist is able to identify if there is anything abnormal such as oral cancer or other types of disease.
The hygienist's main role is to provide professional cleaning of the teeth for the patient. This is usually called scaling and polishing. However, perhaps their most important role is the education of the patient in the best way to keep the teeth free of plaque. Our hygienists work closely with the dentist to provide care tailored to your needs. Regular professional cleaning combined with your home care will help maintain a healthy mouth. A clean and healthy mouth will improve your appearance, help you keep your teeth and give you fresh breath. Poor gum health is now known to be related to heart problems later in life.
The training of the hygienist is centered around preventing dental disease (Gum disease and tooth decay). Carefully removing the deposits that build up on the teeth (tartar) and teaching you how to prevent it reforming again, will go a long way to slowing the progress of gum disease. By discussing your diet and recommending other preventive measures your decay rate can also be reduced. Remember prevention is free - you do it yourself!
Scaling and polishing is usually pain-free. However, if you do experience some discomfort the hygienist can eliminate this with the use of topical anesthetic creams or by giving you some local anesthetic. It is important that you let the hygienist know at the time so that some pain control can be given.
You can do a great deal to help yourself and the hygienist as you are in control of your mouth between visits to the practice. You will be shown how to remove plaque with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. You will also be shown how to clean between your teeth with floss, tape or little brushes. There are many products available and we will recommend those that are appropriate for you.