What Happens During a Routine Dental Exam?

Dental Exams in Des Moines & Urbandale, IA

Many dental patients understand the importance of twice-yearly dental checkups, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know exactly what their dentist and hygienist are doing in their mouths. To better educate his patients about precisely what happens during a routine dental appointment, Dr. Chris McDonald offers this informative blog.

Dental Cleaning

One aspect of a standard dental appointment is the cleaning. To begin, the patient receives a strong mouthwash to rinse any loose debris in the mouth. Next, a dental professional meticulously scrapes plaque from both above and below the gumline. If the plaque has hardened into tartar, the dentist or hygienist can use more advanced tools that shake the tartar loose, before rinsing the loose tartar away with a jet of water. He or she can then finish the cleaning with floss to remove any lingering particles stuck between the patient’s teeth.

Next, the polishing phase begins. Dr. McDonald or his assistant brushes the patient’s teeth with a special paste. This paste is very gritty so that it can best remove surface stains and brighten the patient’s smile. Because the teeth have smoother surfaces after a polishing, they are less likely to collect bacteria. This helps prevent problems like cavities and gum disease.

Most patients end the cleaning portion with a fluoride treatment. Fluoride helps strengthen the enamel on the teeth, which is a good way to block cavities. After wearing fluoride-filled mouthguards for a few minutes, the patient must spit out all the fluoride since it is not meant to be consumed.

Dental Examination

Dental appointments also include an examination, which allows Dr. McDonald to assess the health of the patient’s teeth and gums. While every appointment includes a visual search for cavities, digital images may also be taken of the patient’s mouth, depending how long it has been since he or she last had X-rays performed. These images help Dr. McDonald to better scrutinize the mouth for infection, decay and bone loss.

During every appointment, Dr. McDonald also looks for a variety of problems that most patients do not even realize they have. This includes analyzing for signs of bruxism (teeth grinding), TMJ disorder, an improper biting motion and oral cancer. While oral cancer is easy to treat when caught early, the problem is that most patients do not notice any symptoms until it has progressed significantly. Therefore, having a dentist look for cancer is potentially life-saving care.

Schedule a Dental Appointment

Brushing and flossing are a core component of maintaining good oral hygiene, but those activities alone are no substitute for regular dental care from a professional. If you are overdue on having a checkup, please call McDonald Family Dentistry for an appointment at (515) 334-3838.

Posted Under: General Dentistry, Oral Health