It is important to understand that the purpose of this appointment should be to make sure you are on track in terms of staying healthy and preventing any new dental problems. If you have had problems In the past, have continued to have new dental problems, or at the end of this appointment you do not have a clear understanding of what is going on, why any new dental problems may have occurred, what you need to do to correct the problem, and how you can prevent any problem in the future, then there is NO purpose to this dental hygiene/check-up/cleaning appointment. HERE IS WHAT SHOULD BE PERFORMED IN THIS DENTAL HYGIENE/CHECK-UP/CLEANING APPOINTMENT: (THE APPOINTMENT SHOULD TAKE NO LESS THAT 1 TO 1.5 HOURS) 1. A thorough exam by the hygienist followed by a thorough exam by the Dentist/Doctor. Exam to include the teeth, the bite, gums including probing of the gum/gingival crevices, tongue, lips, all soft tissues of the mouth, the TMJ, and the neck including the Thyroid gland and lymph nodes. The dental exam should include a oral cancer screening. 2. X-rays (Digital are best). 4 Bite-wing x-rays of the crown portions of the teeth and periodontal structures every 6 months. A complete series of x-rays (usually 16) every 4 years alternated with a Panographic x-ray of the jaws and teeth every 4 years (this means one or the other every 2 years) 3. Diagnosis verbally and visually so that you understand and can see for yourself (the dentist or hygienist points out in your mouth or show you on the x-ray any areas of concern). The dentist at this time also advises you of actions to take to prevent or correct any problem
so that the teeth and the mouth is restored to health. “Watching” an area or problem or “monitoring” it is a poor option and should be avoided in most cases. 4. A Microscopic culture. This is needed to make sure your home care regimen is effective and is eliminating the disease causing/bad/ pathogenic bacteria. A Dental Hygienist or a Dentist without a Phase Microscope is like a blind dentist or hygienist in terms of predicting future dental disease. 5. Oral hygiene technique confirmation or coaching on how to become more efficient or more effective. This is only needed if the Microscopic Culture shows the presence of bad/disease causing/pathogenic bacteria. 6. A Prophylaxis. This includes scaling and polishing of the teeth to remove all calculus/tartar deposits and stain. (Note that tartar or calculus on the teeth does not cause dental disease but it does prevent effective or hygiene and provides a hiding place the disease causing/bad/ pathogenic bacteria). 7. A Fluoride treatment. This makes the teeth more resistant to the effects of acids, etc. in your diet or produced by bacteria (good or bad). Fluoride treatment is particularly important for people who have any exposed root structure as the root of the teeth are much more vulnerable and less resistant. 8. A discussion and plan to make sure any problems are handled and when you should be seen again. For healthy patients this should be in 6months. In conclusion there are many additional services that may be included in your Dental Hygiene/check-up/cleaning appointment like a smile evaluation but these 8 steps are essential and if inadequate time or attention is put on any one step you as a patient
will pay either financially or healthwise.