A hygienist will conduct an initial oral exam of your gums and teeth; document any changes in your overall health and medicine use; clean and polish your teeth; talk to you about caring for your teeth and gums; and answer any questions you might have about home care products. Your dentist will also conduct an oral exam of your mouth (for signs of oral cancer or other diseases), gums, and teeth; ask about changes in your overall health or medicine use; review the cleaning done by the hygienist; diagnose any oral health problems; and make treatment recommendations.
A dental exam is the first line of defense in early detection of oral diseases including oral cancer. An oral cancer screening incorporates systematic visual examination of all the soft tissues of the mouth, including manual extension of the tongue to examine its base, a bimanual palpation of the floor of the mouth, a digital examination of the borders of the tongue, and the lymph nodes surrounding the oral cavity and in the neck.
Digital x-rays (radiographs) are a vital and necessary part of your dental visit. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed. X-rays may be needed to evaluate an injury or plan treatments. Two common types of x-rays used are cavity checking x-rays of the molars (bitewings) and around the head (pantomograph or “pano”). The pantomograph is a great x-ray for checking supporting structures of the teeth and root tips and determining if there are cysts/tumors present or the location of non-emerged wisdom teeth. Intra oral cameras are tiny cameras that can take a photo to be able to see what is going on in your mouth for better communication between doctor and patient. Intra-oral photographs can also help in explaining a treatment to your insurance company.
If a patient is at moderate-to-high risk of developing cavities or if they are experiencing sensitivity in their teeth, a professional fluoride treatment can help. The fluoride preparation used in the dental office is a much stronger concentration than is in toothpaste or fluoride mouth rinses that may be available in a store or at a pharmacy. Professional fluoride treatments generally take just a few minutes. The fluoride may be in the form of a solution, gel, foam or varnish. At Davidson Family Dentistry, we usually use a varnish for our adult patient. After the treatment you will be asked to not eat or drink anything hot or hard for the rest of the day. With foam fluoride, you will be asked to not eat or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride and help repair microscopic areas of decay.
Depending on your dental health, your dentist may recommend additional preventive measures such as fluoride mouth rinses, gels and antibacterial mouth rinses and specialty toothpastes.
Grinding or clenching of teeth at night may cause discomfort in addition to damage to dental restorations, cracking of teeth, loosening of teeth, joint pain and muscle fatigue. A custom made night guard made from soft or hard material fitted to your teeth prevents damage from opposing teeth and will help relieve some of the pressure of grinding and clenching. A custom made mouth guard is also important for preventing injuries in sports and is more comfortable than a mouth guard purchased over the counter.