Plan Now for a Healthy Smile in the New Year

Plan Now for a Healthy Smile in the New Year

Dec 11, 2013

As December comes to a close, so does 2013. The New Year is just ahead, a clean slate waiting to be filled. Take time now to plan out your dental health strategy for 2014 so that you can create and maintain a beautiful smile.

The American Dental Association recommends that you visit the dentist at least once every six months for maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. People at risk of periodontal disease should see the dentist more often. Ask your dentist how frequently you should schedule your appointments during your next exam.

Visiting the Dentist

There are several things that occur during a typical appointment.

In most offices, your first stop is with the dental hygienist to have x-rays taken. Your dentist looks at the x-rays to identify problem areas that are too small to see with the naked eye. The hygienist then examines your mouth for signs of periodontal disease. If you require a routine cleaning, the hygienist will clean, polish and floss your teeth carefully before calling in the dentist for the exam.

Root Scaling and Planning

Although dental hygienists are able to clean plaque and tartar from the teeth of most patients with a routine cleaning, some patients have such significant calculus or tartar that they need a root planing and scaling. If the hygienist suspects a root planing and scaling is necessary, she or the dentist will use a periodontal probe to measure the space between your teeth and gums. Deep pockets are a sign that the area will be too difficult to clean with a basic cleaning.

Scaling and root planing is a way to remove the plaque and tartar below the gum line. Sometimes the dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb your gums during the cleaning before using a small scaler or ultrasonic cleaner to thoroughly clean out the bottom of each pocket. He then smooths out the root surfaces, which helps the area to heal. This also prevents plaque from getting back into the pockets.

Importance of Regular Visits

Regular exams are important because they give your dentist the opportunity to discover potential issues while they are still simple to treat. When you see the dentist at least every six months, he has a baseline to use when looking for progression of tooth decay and cracks and damage in dental restorations. Oral cancer screenings are also an essential component of dental exams because early detection increases your chance of full recovery. If you have noticed any clicking noises or pain in your jaw, let your dentist know. They can be signs of TMJ, which your dentist will be checking for during the exam. He will also examine your face, neck and lymph nodes for abnormalities.

Before 2014 becomes just as busy as 2013, schedule your dental appointments and write them on your calendar. In between appointments, it is your responsibility to brush and floss at least twice a day as you work to maintain your dental health year round.

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