A preventive program is a cooperative effort by the patient, dentist, and dental staff to preserve the natural dentition and supporting structures by preventing the onset, progress, and recurrence of dental diseases and conditions.
Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet. It is continued in the dental office by the efforts of your dentist and dental hygienist to promote, restore, and maintain your oral health. Prevention also includes regular dental exams, cleanings, and x-rays. Sealants and fluoride are also great preventive treatments that help protect the teeth.
Prevention helps avoid serious and costly dental problems and is the key to having a healthy, confident, beautiful smile.
- Cleaning and Exams
The basis of sound dental care is routine cleaning and maintenance of the gums and teeth. We customize each cleaning on the basis of your periodontal (gums and bone),health. We utilize medicated gels along with prescription mouth rinses in problem areas if necessary. Ultrasonic scalers are sometimes used to make the procedure more comfortable and effective as well. During a routine cleaning and exam there are multiple steps the hygienist takes to be sure every patient has a thorough cleaning and examination.
- Check the pocket depths around the teeth by probing. This gives us a great deal of information about the overall health of your gums
- Examine for calculus and tartar, which is the hard residue which can form on your teeth. Calculus above the gum is easily seen, but below the gum is hidden. This calculus below the gum is detected again by careful probing.
- Remove the plaque and calculus from above and below the gum line using techniques called scaling.
- Teeth are polished to create a smooth surface, making it difficult for plaque to adhere
- Dental X-Rays
Dental x-rays provide a picture of what is happening in the mouth in areas that we normally can not see, including early decay, wisdom teeth, impacted teeth, abscesses, and bone loss. The necessary x-rays will be determined on a case by case basis by Dr. Greenhalgh. Our office uses digital x-rays when we take bitewings or periapical x-rays. A small sensor unit sends pictures to a computer to be recorded and saved. This allows for the patient and the doctor to be able to examine the x-ray immediately.
- All age suitable patients are required to have current panoramic x-rays on file. A panoramic may be used for up to five years, with most insurance companies covering them every three to five years. A panoramic x-ray shows a broad view of the jaws, teeth, sinuses, nasal area, and the jaw joints. When a dentist looks at a panoramic x-ray they are looking for a variety of dental concerns. A panoramic x-ray does not check for decay but it does check for oral cancer, wisdom teeth, sinuses, impacted teeth, and much more.
- Bitewings show the lower and upper teeth in the back of the mouth. These x-rays are used to check for decay between the teeth and show how the teeth line up. Bitewings can also show bone loss and gum disease if in an advanced state. Bitewings are taken once a year at a cleaning and exam appointment. Most insurance companies will cover bitewings at 100% at least once a year.
- A periapical x-ray takes a picture of the entire tooth, including an exposed crown to the end of the root and the bones that support the tooth. These x-rays are often taken when a patient has a toothache. A periapical x-ray is designed so a dentist can find any dental problems that may be occurring below the gumline or in the jaw. A periapical x-ray will often find impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts, tumors, and bone changes.
Sealants should be used as part of a child's total preventive dental care. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings which are applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars (back teeth). Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. Sealants cover the chewing surfaces to prevent decay. One sealant application can last for as long as 5 to 10 years. Sealants should be checked regularly, and reapplied if they are no longer in place Applying sealants does not require drilling or removing tooth structure. It is an easy three-step process.
- We clean the tooth with special toothpaste.
- A special cleansing liquid, on a tiny piece of cotton, is rubbed gently on the tooth and is washed off.
- Finally, the sealant is painted on the tooth. It takes about a minute for the sealant to form a protective shield