Professional cleanings (dental prophylaxis) performed by a dentist or hygienist form the foundation for preventing gum disease and tooth decay. In a professional cleaning, your dentist or hygienist will:
- Remove plaque from the teeth – Plaque is a sticky substance that forms in the mouth from food, saliva and bacteria. Plaque sticks to teeth and causes tooth decay and gum disease.
- Remove calculus (tarter) above the gum line – Calculus is plaque that has hardened on the tooth surface and is difficult to remove. (Calculus below the gum line indicates gum disease and requires a different procedure to remove it.)
- Polish and remove stains from teeth
Dental examinations help to diagnose disease before it becomes hazardous to your health. In addition, regular examinations can save you money by alleviating problems while they are small and before they become expensive to repair, or in some cases, impossible to repair. Your dental examinations generally include the following:
- Oral cancer screening
- Gum disease evaluation
- Visual examination of tooth decay
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays to see cysts, tumors, invisible decay and other problems that can't be seen by the naked eye
- Evaluation of status of current restorations (fillings and others)
We cannot express enough how important it is to see your dentist regularly. Remember, preventing disease is always better than treating disease.