Although it is becoming more common, some people still don’t plan on a bi-annual dental hygiene exam. These exams are recommended by the American Dental Association for your oral and general health. We’d love to educate you on why this exam is important, and what you can expect at your hygiene exam.
What happens at a hygiene exam?
When you come in for your 6-month hygiene exam, your dental hygienist will help deep clean your teeth and gums. Using scraping and sometimes vibrating probes, they will gently work along the gum-line and just underneath it to scrape off built-up plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on your teeth 4-12 hours after brushing as you breathe, salivate, and eat. If that plaque sits on your teeth long enough, it begins to harden and becomes tartar. Tartar is a hard, mineralized deposit that sticks firmly to teeth and generally can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist.
At your appointment, your dental hygienist is also trained to investigate potential dental caries by gently probing dark, discolored, pitted, or sensitive areas. They will recommend follow-up with a dentist if they discover a cavity or another issue that needs treatment. Once a year, your hygienist will also take new dental x-rays. This will help them discover if there is decay between teeth or below the surface of the tooth, like between a filling and the natural tooth. Regular X-rays are important to help catch problems that may not be obvious or visible before they cause a major problem. Another thing your hygienist will do is a quick oral cancer screening. Catching cancer early can literally save your life. Cancer in other parts of your body also commonly affects your oral health. Discussing oral health concerns with your hygienist may raise a red flag with your hygienist.
Additionally, your dental hygienist will educate and advise you on how to care for your teeth better on your own between appointments. This may include recommending a different type of toothpaste, a different brushing or flossing technique, or adding to your regular dental hygiene routine. A hygienist can help advise you on the specific difficulties of your mouth- whether it’s a biological tendency towards gum disease, shallow gum tissue, or crowded spaces between your teeth. If you have any questions be sure to ask your hygienist, they love to educate!
Why is a 6-month hygiene exam important?
Despite your best efforts, it is common that people develop plaque and/or tartar in certain areas of their mouth. If these are allowed to sit, they can lead to gum disease, decay, or even tooth loss. Also, sometimes cavities develop in hidden places that you can’t see or feel until they are a serious issue. Schedule a hygiene exam once every 6 months, or more often if you struggle with gum disease or tartar build-up.
Keeping a regular schedule will help your hygienist to catch issues early and prevent expensive restorative treatments. While we have excellent options for restoration, no restoration is as durable or valuable as your own natural teeth. Your natural teeth do they best job of maintaining healthy bone density, chewing and digesting your food, and protecting your body from infection. Whenever possible it is always best to preserve your natural teeth. Obviously, if your natural teeth are decaying or need restoration, it is best to treat them. The best treatment plan for preserving your natural teeth is a thorough home hygiene routine and regular dental hygiene exams.
Behind on your hygiene exam schedule? Looking for a Colorado Springs dentist that offers compassionate, professional care? We’d love to have you join our practice! Contact West One Family Dental for an appointment today!