Spring Cleaning – How Clean Are Your Teeth?

by DR. SHIKHA BATRA, DMD

With “old man winter” finally coming to a visible end this year, springtime cheer is a pleasant welcome for most in the area. Fresh air, sunshine and warmer weather are among a few of the amenities that, once again, we will quickly become accustomed to. We sure deserve it!

Many of us will also take part in the yearly ritual of springtime cleaning. That spring fresh feeling is one of a new beginning.

Dentally speaking, springtime professional teeth cleaning is a great time to catch up on that appointment that you’ve been putting off or forgotten in the oh-so-cold and dreadful winter months. A routine dental checkup could really help to get you started off on the right foot this spring and summer.

What does a “routine” dental checkup and cleaning entail?

Each dental office operates a little differently. However, here are some of the basic services that should be offered in a first and/or routine visit. First and foremost, a medical and dental history should be obtained or updated by the dentist or dental team member.

Next, any necessary dental radiographs should be performed. The American Dental Association provides specific recommendations and guidelines that the dental health care provider should be following when determining which radiographs are necessary and appropriate. Be sure to inquire about this. Many offices are now using digital radiography, which requires exposure to radiation at a fraction of the level as traditional x-rays.

Your teeth should also be cleaned by either a hygienist or dentist using hand-held instruments and/or an ultrasonic scaler (water driven). This will remove bacteria and plaque which accumulates on and beneath teeth and gum tissues. The bacterial plaque is often unable to be assessed and properly cleaned by you, the patient, – hence- the use of special instruments. Next, a polishing and flossing of your teeth should be performed.

Typically, you may have many flavor choices in polish paste. This polish is more abrasive than normal toothpaste and helps to clean and whiten teeth surfaces. The polishing should be followed by flossing in between teeth and any oral hygiene instructions or aids that the health care professional may deem necessary so that you may maintain and/or improve your oral hygiene between professional dental visits.

Finally, a dentist will examine your teeth and x-rays to ensure that all the structures (in and out of your mouth) are within healthy limits and clean. The dentist may make recommendations and suggestions for repairs or improvements in oral health care. At this time, the dentist and/or hygienist will also answer any questions/concerns that you – the patient may have.

A schedule will be determined and set for you to return to the office for your routine dental cleanings and check-ups.

Other services that many offices recommend and provide are intra-oral photos of your teeth. These photos actually help you to see enlarged images of each tooth and other oral structures inside and outside of your mouth. This is a great tool to educate the patient about oral health. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Some offices may also recommend professional fluoride treatments with routine dental cleanings and checkups. This provides a boost in vitamins for teeth in between visits. It also helps to maintain any dental work which has been previously performed in your mouth.

The majority of offices also provide “goodie bags” or take home bags. Often times this includes a toothbrush, dental floss, and/or toothpaste. It is a great way to motivate you to maintain your dental health.

So, this year, as spring rolls around, remember that spring cleaning of your teeth should be on your list of tasks to tackle. Make your appointment with your local dentist and make sure that you receive proper basic services.

Dr. Shikha Batra is a cosmetic and general dentist practicing in Troy, Michigan. For any further comments, questions, or concerns – feel free to contact her office at 248-362-1100 or troydentalstudio.com.