Proper oral hygiene and preventative care are crucial elements to good oral health. Preventive care begins at home. It’s recommended by the American Dental Association that individuals brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss once. For best results, we suggest using products that contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance. This will help protect you from common issues like tooth decay or gum disease.
At-home care alone is not enough. Maintain a well-rounded diet, staying away from sugary food and drinks. It is also essential to schedule regular dental checkups. Proper at-home care doesn’t compare to the expertise and skills of a dentist. There are some things you simply can’t detect or treat on your own. Preventative care also keeps you from needing restorative procedures in the future.
At each appointment, we will perform a comprehensive oral exam which includes:
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): This allows us to see what issues might be developing below the surface. Common problems detected with the help of X-rays include bone loss, cysts, tooth decay, and wisdom teeth development.
- Oral cancer screening: We will assess your gums, tongue, mouth, face region, including your neck and throat. You can also do this at home. If you notice anything unusual, contact us right away.
- Gum disease evaluation: Our team will look for receding or inflamed gums as they can be a sign of periodontal disease.
- Examination of tooth decay: Using specific dental tools, we will check all your teeth for signs of tooth decay.
- Examination of existing restorations: We will make sure your fillings and crowns look and work like they should.
Professional Dental Cleaning
Dr. Petri and her staff encourage patients to receive a professional dental cleaning at least twice a year. Dental cleanings include:
- Removal of calculus (tartar): Once plaque hardens, it turn into tartar, which must be removed by a professional. This generally develops below the surface of your gums.
- Removal of plaque: Plaque is nearly invisible and develops from untreated bacteria. This will inflame your gums, eventually turn into tartar, or even periodontal disease.
- Teeth polishing: We will clean your teeth to wash away any plaque that brushing alone doesn’t get rid of.
Digital radiography, more commonly known as digital X-rays, are an important tool we use to detect and treat issues going on below the surface. An electronic sensor captures black and white images that give us a full visual of your head and neck region. These images allow us to spot issues we wouldn’t be able to see with the naked eye. We use special X-ray technology that uses minimal radiation. Our X-ray machines use 80-90% less radiation than other common X-ray machines.
Digital X-rays play a crucial role in detecting, treating, and preventing oral issues. We are able to reference your images to see if anything has changed over time or email them to another specialist.
We use X-rays to find:
- Abscesses or cysts
- Bone loss
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
- Tooth decay
- Developmental issues
- Improper tooth alignment and root positions
- Issues inside a tooth or below the surface of the gum line
Early detection is the best way to treat any oral issue and help you avoid pain and costly restorative procedures in the future.
Are dental x-rays safe?
Our digital X-ray machines use the least amount of radiation exposure. Recent advancements in the dental field have made X-ray imaging safer and more effective than ever. Without this technology, many dental problems would go undetected until they surface. Although our machines use significantly lower levels of radiation, we still the take necessary steps to protect you from radiation, like providing lead aprons to cover your body.
How often should dental x-rays be taken?
This generally depends on the patient’s specific dental needs. X-ray images are not required at each visit. Dr. Petri or one of her team members will let you know if we think you need additional X-ray images taken. We suggest all new patients get digital X-ray images. This helps us determine the state of your oral health.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in food and water. Fluoride is one of the oldest and most effective ways to fight against tooth decay.
There are two types of fluoride:
Topical fluoride is administered in our office and helps strengthen your enamel and wash away excess food and bacteria. Strong and healthy enamel shields your teeth from tooth decay. Dr. Petri encourages her patients to get topical fluoride treatments two times a year.
Systemic fluoride protects teeth that have surfaced and those still growing under your gums. Fluoride rich food and drinks are a great way to shield your teeth and protect your gums from tooth decay. Each bite and sip coats your mouth with fluoride. Sometimes, however, food and drinks don’t contain enough fluoride to properly fight tooth decay. You can also get a systemic fluoride in a gel or drop form, which are commonly usd for toddlers and those who don’t have teeth yet. This helps create a healthy environment for teeth to grow.
In-office and at-home fluoride treatments are utilized for the following:
- Deep crevices on your back molars
- Exposed and sensitive root surfaces
- Poor oral hygiene habits
- Poor diet
- Not enough fluoride intake
- Not enough flow of saliva (dry mouth)
- Previous issues with tooth decay
While fluoride has many advantages, it’s important to remember it’s most effective combined with regular dental visits, professional fluoride treatments, and proper at-home oral care.
How to Properly Brush & Floss
As recommended by the American Dental Association, you should brush two times a day and floss once. Maintaining proper oral hygiene at home is just as important as professional dental cleanings. You can take daily action towards a better smile with good oral hygiene habits.
Brushing and flossing are important because of the following:
- Prevention of tooth decay – Tooth decay is the number one reason for tooth loss. Treating tooth decay is often painful, uncomfortable, and costly. Tooth decay happens when plaque attacks your teeth and enamel. Tooth decay can be easily prevented with proper at-home care.
- Prevention of periodontal disease – This is a severe disease that happens when plaque and tartar are left untreated. It can cause tooth loss and gums and jaw bones to recede. If not treated in a timely manner, it can turn into issues that threaten the health of your entire body.
- Prevention of halitosis – This is the term for bad breath. Halitosis and bad breath occur when excess food particles are left on your teeth. You can avoid halitosis and remove food by brushing and flossing immediately after eating.
- Prevention of staining – Teeth can become stained or discolored over time for a number of reasons. Certain lifestyle choices like diet and using tobacco products cause discoloration. Brush and floss your teeth regularly to avoid permanent staining.
The Proper Way to Brush
As mentioned above, brush your teeth two times a day and floss once. For best results, brush first thing in the morning, after each meal, and right before you go to bed. Brush with a soft-bristled brush. Hard-bristled brushes can cause your gums to bleed and may trigger other gum-related issues. We recommend using protects containing the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
For good oral hygiene and proper brushing, follow the steps below:
- Angle your toothbrush 45-degrees, where the gums and teeth meet.
- Use small circular motions to gently brush your teeth and gumline.
- Make sure you are gently brushing your teeth and not applying to much pressure
- Brush each tooth and the inside of your mouth including your cheeks, tongue, and roof of your mouth. Give your back teeth extra attention.
- Use gentle back and forth strokes
- Once you have brush your teeth and the inside of your mouth, give your tongue a good scrub with your toothbrush or tongue scraper
The Proper Way to Floss
Flossing is an important, and often overlooked step in the daily oral hygiene routine. This fast and simple step can save you from painful and costly procedures in the future. Flossing gets into areas of your mouth that a toothbrush alone doesn’t reach. When choosing a type of floss, brand and flavor don’t matter.
For proper flossing, follow these steps:
- Cut a piece of floss about a foot long.
- Wrap each end of the floss on both of your index fingers, leaving about 2-3 inches of space.
- Work the floss gently between your teeth and gums.
- Curve the floss in a U-shape around each individual tooth and carefully slide it beneath the gum line.
- Move the floss up and down between teeth to remove stubborn debris.
- Be careful you’re not sliding the floss up and down too hard that it causes your gums to bleed.
Ask our team if you would like more tips for better oral hygiene!
Panoramic X-rays, like digital X-ray images, provide us with information that we would not be able to see otherwise. They show what’s going on below the surface so we can detect, diagnose, and treat issues before they worsen. We often use this type of imaging to monitor wisdom teeth development, cavities at their earliest signs, injuries, and bone loss.
Like digital X-rays, they are a fast and easy aspect of your appointment. The machine used to take panoramic X-rays takes images by going around the patient’s head, instead of inside their mouth.
Digital X-rays are more common and we generally only take panoramic X-rays if we need to for your specific situation. Rather than focusing on a single tooth, they give us a better insight of your nasal and sinus region and mandibular nerve.
A dental sealant is a thin cover placed on your back molars where you chew. Molars tend to have deep and rigid crevices that are hard to clean. This is where 75% of tooth decay starts. Sealants create a protective shield to keep food from getting stuck in your molars.
Sealants offer protection for several years. Over time they may need to be touched up, fixed, or modified. We will check the condition of your sealants at each appointment.
Reasons for sealants:
- Children and teenagers – They offer protection to children that are especially at risk for cavities and tooth decay.
- Adults – Excess food can easily get stuck in chewing surfaces. Sealants offer protection for many years.
- Baby teeth – Once teeth surface, they are immediately susceptible to tooth decay.
What do sealants involve?
Sealant application is fast and easy. The entire process takes less than a few minutes.
After we thoroughly clean your teeth, we apply a coating to cement the sealant to your teeth. We wash and dry your teeth then apply the sealant. To help harden the sealant, we may use a special light. This fast and simple treatment can save you from painful and costly procedures in the future.
Proper oral hygiene and dental exams are crucial for a healthy and beautiful smile. To schedule your appointment with Petri Dental, call us today at (714) 881-5500.