15Jan

The Chapel Hill General Dentist Describes What Happens During a Dental Exam and Cleaning

by Dr. Diane Hourigan

The foundation for excellent oral health is preventive dental exams and professional cleanings. Most people know this (even if they don’t always follow through) but are often unaware of exactly what is involved in preventive dental exams and cleanings.

Here’s a step-by-step guide of what you can expect at our next routine appointment with the Chapel Hill general dentist.

Dental Exam

When you become a patient of Dr. Diane Hourigan, we will perform a dental exam that will include the following:

 

  • Visual exam: We check all tooth surfaces for decay and check the condition of existing fillings and dental restorations.
  • Review of diagnostic x-rays: This step is essential for detecting decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays will also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Your dentist should check your face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: It is essential to check the gums and bone surrounding the teeth for signs of periodontal disease.         

Professional Dental Cleaning

Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) should be performed by an experienced dental hygienist that involves:

  • Removal of calculus (tartar): When plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth it hardens and forms a deposit known as calculus. Brushing will not remove calculus since it is calcified and adheres to the teeth above and below the gum line; calculus can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. Plaque is actually a collection of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. These bacteria produce toxins that will inflame the gums and ultimately lead to periodontal disease.
  • Teeth polishing: Tooth polishing is the final step in the process of your professional cleaning and removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling. 

Call Us to Schedule Your Next Exam

Now that you know what’s involved with preventive checkups, you can see how invaluable they are for helping you maintain the healthiest smile possible. If it’s time for your next checkup, please call the Chapel Hill general dentist to arrange an exam and hygiene appointment.