Cleanings and Prevention

Maintaining regularly schedule dental cleanings and prevention is imperative to your oral health.

A dental cleaning, or also know as a “prophylaxis” is a dental procedure which is performed with the goal of reducing the risk of gum and tooth disease. Also known simply as a prophylaxis or prophy, this procedure is recommended at intervals which can vary from six months to one year, depending on a patient’s history and individual health needs. It is performed by a dentist or licensed dental hygienist (RDH) who has received specialized training in tooth care.

During a dental cleaning, the hygienist performs both scaling and polishing. During the scaling process, tools are used to remove tartar, plaque, and stains from the teeth, including below the gum line. The polishing process smooths the teeth to remove rough spots which might otherwise attract bacteria. Some dentists also offer tooth sealant services, which are designed to prevent decay of the teeth.

The most important part of a dental cleaning involves cleaning below the gumline. People who floss and brush their teeth regularly can usually keep their teeth relatively healthy above the gums. Below the gums, however, it is difficult for tools like toothbrushes to reach, and dental calculus can build up. This exposes the patient to the risk of gum disease and dental decay.

Dental Exam

Our Cleanings and Prevention services include the following offerings:

Dental X-ray

Full mouth X-Rays(FMX): A series of 18 x-rays. It’s usually done once every three to five years along with a comprehensive exam. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is less than the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources.

Panoramic X-Ray: An extra-oral x-ray taken to show all teeth and their supporting structures, such as the joint bone area.  

Bite-wing X-Ray: A type of x-ray primarily used to check for cavities. It shows only the top portions of the teeth. Four bite-wing x-rays are usually done every year to check for new problems or cavities.

PA X-Ray: A type of x-ray used to show the whole tooth from top to root and the surrounding bone structure.

EXAMS

Comprehensive New patient Exam: This exam is done at your first dental appointment.

Limited/Emergency Exam: This exam is done when you are seen for an emergency tooth ache. It involves looking at just the area that is bothering you and taking an x-ray of that area.

Periodic Exam: This exam is usually done every six months at your regular check up and cleaning appointments. It involves checking all your teeth and looking for changes.

Toothpaste

The goal of regular home care is to combat the buildup of plaque in and around your teeth and gums, and fight bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Here are a few simple ways that you can prevent these problems:

  • Brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste; once in the morning and before bedtime.
  • Flossing your teeth once daily, preferably before bedtime
  • Using a mouthwash can help reduce plaque and can remove remaining food particles that brushing and flossing missed.
  • Eating a balanced diet; limiting candy, sweets, sugary drinks and fruit juice.

Taking care of your teeth at home can help you maintain your dental health and prevent periodontal, or gum, disease from developing.

Children Brushing

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse. 

Brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque:

  •    In the morning after breakfast
  •    After lunch or right after school
  •    After dinner
  •    At bedtime

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.

Flossing 

For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day. 

Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.

Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.

Sealants

A sealant is a clear coating that is painted into the grooves on the chewing surfaces of a tooth and prevents decay from forming on that surface. It is usually done for children. It is put on molars and pre-molars that have never had a cavity, to protect the tooth from decay.

When applied to the chewing surfaces of molars, sealants act as a barrier between the tooth and harmful bacteria. They are most effective when applied to decay-susceptible surfaces as soon as the teeth come in. With sealants, there is no drilling and no discomfort. Either Dr. Saager or one of our registered dental hygienist can apply sealants in less time than having a tooth filled.

Stay up to date on your dental cleanings and prevention. Conveniently located near Walla Walla, WA,  call our Milton-Freewater, OR dental office today for an appointment. We’re gladly accepting new patients!