In accordance with the American Dental Association (ADA), we recommend that you have a professional dental cleaning, or prophylaxis, every six months. The term dental prophylaxis means the “removal of dental plaque, dental calculus, and stains from the exposed and unexposed surfaces of the teeth by scaling and polishing as a preventive measure for the control of local irritants.” You will give you a professional dental cleaning to remove plaque or tartar buildup. We recommend having bitewing x-rays once a year to ensure that you don’t have any cavities or tooth decay. We recommend that patients with braces have their teeth cleaned every 4 months.
Cleanings for Children
In our office, we want every visit for your child to be a “Happy Visit”. We want their experience at the dentist to be fun and comfortable. A common misconception about baby teeth is that if they develop tooth decay there is no need to worry because they will be replaced with a permanent adult tooth. Parents need to know that proper dental health starts early. Early decay in baby teeth can cause problems with the developing adult teeth as well. Help your child brush and floss their teeth everyday! Dental exams are basically the same for kids and teenagers. Once your child is old enough, your dental hygienist will show your child how to brush and how to floss properly as part of the exam. This is a great way to reinforce that dental care and oral hygiene are an integral part of your child’s life. Dr. Zeng will also do a periodic exam for your child and treatment plan any restorative care they may need.
The Importance of Dental Exams
Regular dental exams are just like regular medical exams and physicals – both are preventive measures to help you stay healthy in the long run. Your oral health and overall health are intertwined: Gum disease has been linked to diabetes, pregnancy has been linked to tooth loss and stress may cause TMJ, dry mouth syndrome and other dental problems. The best way to protect yourself against dental health disasters is to stay on top of your dental exams. Dr. Zeng will perform a periodic exam each time you have your teeth cleaned. If there are dental cavities present, Dr. Zeng will discuss treatment options with you.
X-rays on a regular basis so that your dental condition can be monitored. The frequency of x-rays taken depends on your medical and dental history as well as your current condition. In general, we take bitewings once a year, a full mouth x-ray every 3 to 5 years and periapicals only as needed.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Dr. Zeng performs a routine oral cancer screening as part of the periodic care exam. She will look for any changes or abnormalities. Early detection of oral cancer is important because one person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than other more commonly known cancers such as skin, cervical, prostate, and breast cancers. Oral cancer used to be mostly associated with tobacco users over the age of 40. HPV16, found in younger patients as well, has been conclusively connected to oral cancer and will soon take over tobacco as the main cause. We will refer you immediately to a specialist for an evaluation if anything unusual is found.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral so beneficial to your teeth that many communities add it to their water supply. Water naturally contains a small amount of fluoride, as do some foods. Increasing this fluoride content creates a constant “treatment” to prevent tooth decay and rebuild weakened tooth enamel. Regular contact with these small doses helps maintain the surface and structure of your teeth. Throughout the day, your teeth are exposed to acids that can break down enamel and lead to tooth decay — fluoride helps inhibit these acids from attacking the tooth surface. More importantly, it helps restore the minerals that have been worn down and repair weak spots in the enamel. Fluoride is also especially beneficial for children because it becomes integrated with growing teeth and helps develop resistance to acids later in life. Our hygienists will typically treat your child’s teeth with a higher concentration of fluoride during their cleaning appointment to protect their teeth year round. Dr. Zeng may prescribe fluoride supplements or recommend a fluoride mouth rinse.
Skipping Exams Is Tempting, but Costly
It is understandable that you might be tempted to skip regular dental exams when the economy is bad or if you are experiencing a financial crunch. Brushing and flossing, however, are not enough to maintain your dental health. Delaying professional dental care can sometimes result in serious dental problems later – and treatments that are much more costly. If you have dental insurance, be sure to take advantage of the benefits. Although coverage varies among dental insurance carriers, standard coverage usually includes cleanings, exams and x-rays. If you do not have dental insurance, there are other options available to help you make your dental exams and cleanings a priority. We accept CareCredit®, which may help with your dental expenses.