There are many forms of preventative dentistry, such as daily brushing and flossing and semi-annual dental cleanings. These practices are designed to ensure the longevity of your natural teeth. Children should be taught proper oral hygiene at an early age.
Cleanings are performed by registered dental hygienists and can include:
Removal of Tartar: Tartar is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Tartar forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
Removal of Plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is commonly known as gingivitis. When left untreated, gingivitis can progress and lead to bone loss that is irreversible. The cleaning that is recommended is often therapeutic rather than preventative.
Tooth Polishing: Tooth polishing removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
At each new patient appointment and subsequent cleaning appointment, the doctor will complete a thorough examination. Your oral health, dental and medical histories, and diagnostic data (such as X-rays and periodontal charting) will be evaluated. This is a great time for us to get to know you, your dental concerns and expectations, and your aesthetic concerns. Please ask questions! We will do our best to explain any treatment recommendations or educate you on preventative measures you can take for optimal oral health.
A Comprehensive or Periodic Dental Exam includes the following:
• Intra-oral examination of all teeth, soft tissue, and restorations
• Interpretation of X-Rays
• Oral Cancer Screening
• Periodontal Evaluation
• TMJ Evaluation
The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease.
At Merrell Family Dentistry, we have a top of the line digital X-ray system. The benefits to digital X-rays are they require much less radiation than the typical X-ray and there is no wait time for the X-rays to develop – the images are available on screen a few seconds after being taken.
Computed tomography, otherwise known as Cone Beam or CT scanning, shows the body's interior structures as a three-dimensional image. This type of X-ray, which may be performed in a hospital or radiology center, is now available at our dental office!
Removal of plaque at least twice per day can help prevent tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.
Select a toothbrush that will provide easy access to all areas of your mouth. Choose one with a small head (1 inch by ½ inch) that is flexible or with a flexible handle. The brush should have soft nylon bristles with round heads and a wide handle for a firm grip. Replace your toothbrush as soon as bristles show signs of wear, about once every three to four months.
Merrell Family Dentistry recommends electric toothbrushes because they remove significantly more plaque, as well as improving gum health.
Statistics show that 9 out of 10 people will not go back to an ordinary manual brush after using an electric brush.
For more information on electric tooth brushes we recommend these sites:
Sonicare: "Flex Care Platinum" & "Diamond Clean" - for more information click here.
Oral-B: "Professional Care 1,000 & 3,000", "Smart Series 4,000 & 5,000", and "Deep Sweep Series" - for more information click here.
A sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of molars, premolars and any deep grooves (called pits and fissures) of teeth. More than 75% of dental decay begins in these deep grooves. Teeth with these conditions are hard to clean and are very susceptible to decay. A sealant protects the tooth by sealing deep grooves, creating a smooth, easy to clean surface.
Sealants can be placed on permanent teeth as soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear or any time throughout the cavity prone years of 6-16. Occasionally sealants will be recommended for baby teeth if they have deep grooves or depressions and the child is cavity prone.
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for many years, but need to be checked for wear and chipping at regular dental visits.
Periodontal disease, begins with bacterial growth in your mouth, and a buildup of plaque called Gingivitis. If not treated, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form spaces or pockets. These spaces between teeth and gums collect debris and can become infected. Teeth may become loose and tooth loss occurs. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and can also lead to other health issues.
To determine if you have periodontal disease, we perform a thorough examination which includes taking X-rays to determine how much bone has been lost. We measure the depth of the pockets with a probe. A reading of more than three millimeters could be a sign of periodontal disease, and we’ll pay careful attention to those areas.