During a dental checkup, you sometimes will see two professionals — your dentist and the dental hygienist if the office has a hygienist on staff. The hygienist typically will check your gums and teeth, clean and polish your teeth, and talk to you about caring for your teeth and gums properly at home. Your dentist also may do a clinical examination, diagnose problems and recommend treatments. Here's what to expect:
A professional dental cleaning aims to remove the complicated calculus (tartar) from above and just below the gum line. Your brushing and flossing regularly removes plaque. Only dental instruments can remove calculus. Some dental hygienists use ultrasonic instruments to blast away the larger chunks of tartar. They follow up with hand instruments to thoroughly clean the teeth. Other hygienists use only hand instruments. Learn more about our dental cleaning methods here.
After the calculus is removed, the crowns of your teeth (the parts that show) may be polished to remove plaque and surface stains. Typically, but not always, an abrasive substance is applied to the teeth with a small rotating rubber cup or brush. This helps to scrub away stains. The polishing substance will feel gritty in your mouth. You will be given a chance to rinse after this process is done.
The dental hygienist may offer instructions for oral care at home based on the exam results. They may demonstrate how to brush and floss properly. The dentist could also answer any questions you may have during your dental check-up in this part of the process.
X-rays may or may not be taken during your dental checkup. Some people may be able to go as long as two years between X-rays. Others may need them every few months. Your dentist will consider the results of your clinical examination, your dental history, and your risk for developing cavities. Then they will decide if you need X-rays during your check-up visit. If you are seeing a new dentist for the first time, ask for a copy of your X-rays from your former dentist. This will help you to avoid repeating X-rays.
If your dentist finds any problems, they will recommend steps to fix them. They may refer you to a dental specialist (such as a periodontist or orthodontist). You also may need further tests for diagnosis. This could lead to another appointment with the dentist for a filling or more intensive periodontal treatment.
If you are looking for a dental check-up in your area, please check our three locations. We are located in Houston, Baytown, and Mont Belvieu. Don't hesitate to contact us too. We will be happy to answer any questions over the phone as well!