The good old advice is to visit your dentist at least twice a year (every six months) for a regular checkup and cleaning routine.
However, what actually happens during this typical checkup? Should we be prepared, or be afraid? Here, we will tell you all the details.
Understandably, a visit to the dentist—especially if it’s your first time— can be frightening and stressful. Knowing about the routine and what to expect can help you overcome this anxiety, and without further ado, let us begin.
What Happens At Your Dental Appointment
There are usually two different aspects of a regular dental visit:
First is the examination or check-up phase, and the second is the cleaning phase.
1. Check-up aspect
In this phase, your dentist from Markham Stouffville Smile Centre will check the overall condition of your oral health. The exam will include detecting cavities of your teeth, which might involve taking X-rays to detect cavities in the spaces between your teeth.
Another important activity here is checking the overall cleanliness of your teeth.A plaque— sticky layer of bacteria caused by food debris— can accumulate and harden to become tartar. Tartar is much harder to remove and will require a special cleaning process by a dentist (you can’t remove it just by brushing and flossing). If there’s too much buildup of plaque and tartar, the dentist might decide to perform a cleaning treatment.
Next is to check your gums’ cleanliness and health. This will be done with a special tool that can reach the spaces between your teeth and gums.
If necessary, the dentist will also check other areas like your tongue, neck, throat, and even your cheek and face to look for swelling and redness—which can be associated with oral diseases and cancer—.
To summarize, here are the common assessments during this clinical dental examination:
- Head and neck examination (face, neck, lymph nodes, and jaw)
- Gum examinations, both about cleanliness and signs of gum diseases
- Checking for loose teeth and cavities
- Tongue examinations, and also examinations of your inner oral tissues
- Checking your bite strength and stability (even distribution of force, etc.)
- Checking for broken fillings and broken teeth, as well as any dental appliances you previously had
- Taking x-rays if required
2. Cleaning phase
The most common treatment here is cleaning plaque and tartar. As mentioned, we can clean plaque by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, but we can’t clean tartar at home. The dentist will use scaling, a special tool designed to clean—or scale— tartar.
After teeth scaling, the dentist might proceed with teeth polishing. In a nutshell, teeth polishing is using a gritty paste to remove any extrinsic stains on your teeth further. Commonly, the dentist will also floss your teeth to finish the cleaning procedure.
Again, to summarize, here are the common practices within the dental cleaning routine:
- Removal of plaque and tartar
- Teeth polishing
- Thorough flossing between your teeth
Your Dental History
Especially if you are visiting a new dentist, an honest discussion about your previous medical history is important. According to lambtonfamilydental.com, any changes in your health condition like medications intake, pregnancy, arthritis, heart conditions, or diabetes can change your needs in dental care dramatically.
Thus, discuss your concerns, and also your expectations of the dental visit. It is also important to mention whether you have allergies to avoid improper medications during your dental treatments.
While it’s pretty common to be afraid of the dentist—especially if it’s your first visit—-. However, clear communication of your concerns is very important to ensure success.
How Often Should You Make a Dental Visit?
The general consensus, including an official recommendation from the American Dental Association, suggested that we should visit the dentist (when we don’t have any symptoms) at least once every six months.
What Happens After A Dental Exam
After the dental examination and cleaning routine is performed, your dentist will report the current status of your oral health. Depending on your case, the dentist will advise you about the next steps and might offer several different options.
For example, if you have a severe tooth cavity, the dentist might offer whether to pull the tooth out or to place a filling. In cases like these, it’s important to be upfront about your concerns and ask all the necessary questions.
If your case doesn’t need another dental appointment (outside the regular dental visit schedule), the dentist might also advise about better practices you can do at home to maintain or improve your oral health
There are also cases when the dentist will perform a specific treatment or procedure immediately during the same visit. For example, if you have an infected tooth that requires immediate treatment. This is normal, and usually, the dentist will first explain the process and offer viable options.
Maintaining Your Dental Health Between Visits
Six months between each dental visit can be a very long time, and a lot can happen regarding your periodontal health. Plaque will always form on your teeth, which again, can accumulate to form tartar. So, it is important to maintain regular oral care at home, such as:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a good toothbrush and fluoride-containing toothpaste.
- Floss at least once daily. Brushing can effectively clean the surface of your teeth, but not the spaces between the teeth. This is where flossing comes in.
- Rinse your mouth with mouthwash at least once daily. Mouthwash can help control bacteria in your mouth and can help you maintain fresh breath.
Depending on the examination results, you might need another appointment scheduled. If you have severe cases like a broken, infected tooth, you might need to visit the dentist again in the span of days.
Even if you don’t have any immediate needs, you might want to schedule a date for six months in the future. This way, the dentist (or the receptionist) can remind you when the schedule is nearing.