Regular dental checkups are imperative to maintaining optimal oral health. In addition to a good home regimen, regular cleanings and exams will help to avoid tooth decay and gum disease and to prevent many expensive dental treatments.
Prevention starts with controlling plaque, a colorless bacteria that sticks to the surface of your teeth, and calculus, a harder mineral deposit. These are the main sources of decay and periodontal disease. By maintaining a proper routine of daily hygiene, you can prevent most oral disease. Our hygienists at Lindahl Family Dental are excellent and are available to assist you with your hygiene and management of your gums.
During your regular checkup, your hygienist will:
- Look for cavities or evidence of tooth decay
- Take necessary digital x-rays
- Check for any problems or oral cancer
- Inspect your teeth and gums for signs of gingivitis or gum disease
- Thoroughly clean and polish your teeth
- Provide fluoride treatment for prevention of decay
Medical History Review
During your visit, Dr. Lindahl will review any changes to your medical history since your previous visit. Although this usually only takes a small portion of the appointment, it is essential information for us to treat you safely.
What we need to know:
- Updated list of medications, including dosing and frequency
- Recent hospitalizations or surgeries
- New diagnoses or conditions
- Resolution of previous conditions or illnesses
Why do we need to know all of this?
We want to make sure that we are treating you in the best way possible. For example, certain medical conditions or medications may prevent some patients from being able to safely recline fully in our dental chair. If your illness or medications put you at increased risk for decay or infection, we may discuss options to lower that risk at your appointment. Some common ailments that impact oral health include:
- Diabetics are at an increased risk of periodontal disease.
- Arthritis lowers your ability to clean your teeth well with a manual toothbrush. We may help you find a new technique or recommend a power toothbrush.
- Many medications cause dry mouth. A healthy mouth is full of saliva that helps to wash away the food that decay-causing bacteria eat. Without healthy saliva production, you are often at increased risk of tooth decay.
During your appointment, Dr. Lindahl or your hygienist will take time to evaluate your oral health. After a thorough evaluation of your lips, cheeks, gums, teeth, tongue, tonsils, throat and roof of your mouth your dental care provider will discuss any anomalies that you should be aware of. We will also check your bite and jaw for problems. We recommend x-rays when we perform a complete oral examination so that we can accurately assess the health of your tissues that aren’t visible to the naked eye like your bone, between your teeth, and the inside of your teeth. If you have active tooth decay or cavities or are someone who is prone to decay, we will review your risk factors and help you devise a plan to reduce your risk of future decay. Similarly, if you have lost bone level due to a gum or periodontal infection, we will discuss a home care regimen that will help you manage your oral health and diminish your risk of additional bone loss. Additionally, we will recommend a recall interval that is personalized for your specific dental needs.
Once you lose bone in your jaw and around your teeth, your body is unable to fabricate more. Teeth will loosen over time and eventually will be lost. This is why it is critical to stay on top of your regular dental appointments.
Oral Cancer Screening
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, head and neck cancer was the 8th leading cause of death worldwide in 2000. Additionally, in a recent study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers found that many types of Human Papilloma Virus can also lead to cancer of the oral cavity and oropharynx (throat). Oral cancer is a serious concern because though incidence is low, survival is also low and treatment has not improved in success for several decades.
Oral cancer risk factors:
- Tobacco (smoking, chewing tobacco, cigar smoking, snuff)
During your appointment, we will do a thorough examination of your tissues, especially those most likely to develop oral cancer. These include: lips, cheeks, jaw, roof of the mouth, side and bottom of the tongue, and throat.
One of the concerns with oral cancer is that it is often small and painless and often goes unnoticed by the victim. This is why it is important to continue regular dental care. We are specially trained to spot suspicious lesions and will often recommend that we biopsy the tissue. Oral cancer is so deadly because it is usually caught very late. We work to catch it early, giving you the highest chance of survival.
Oral cancer is also hard to detect because it often looks or feels like other common ailments. It can look red, white, or like an ulcer or canker sore. Often, biting your cheek can look similar to an oral cancer lesion. Usually, it is not necessary to be concerned about a lesion in your mouth unless it does not heal within 14 days. If you notice a lesion in your mouth that persists longer than two weeks, please make an appointment to be seen by one of our trained staff.
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer:
- Red or white patch that lasts for more than 2 weeks
- Small, raised ulcer (looks like canker sore) that lasts more than 2 weeks
- Lump inside mouth or neck lasting more than 2 weeks
- Anything causing pain or difficulty swallowing, speaking or chewing that lasts longer than two weeks
- Wart like masses
- Hoarseness that is long lasting
- Numbness in the oral region
- Sometimes, a unilateral persistent earache is a warning sign
For more information visit: http://oralcancerfoundation.org/
Routine Cleaning (Dental Prophylaxis)
Coming in for your cleaning every six months ensures that you stay on top of your dental health. In addition to cleaning your teeth and gums, our hygienists will review your medical history, perform an oral cancer screening, gum tissue probing, look for signs of gum/periodontal disease, remove plaque and calculus, polish your teeth, and do a thorough examination of your dental health.
Your hygienist will use a combination of hand instruments and state-of-the-art ultrasonic cleaners to remove the plaque and hardened tartar called calculus from the surface of your teeth. Calculus is very tough and impossible to remove on your own, so it’s important to that your hygienist cleans your teeth regularly. When calculus builds up, it begins to irritate your gums and bone, causing inflammation. Initially, the inflammation is good because it brings a variety of antibodies and proteins to help combat the bacteria found in the calculus. However, when inflammation in your gums is persistent, your bone will begin to recede away from the area leaving your teeth increasingly less stable. If left untreated, this inflammation called periodontal disease, will cause significant bone loss and tooth loss. Advanced periodontitis can even let bacteria into the bloodstream and cause disease in your heart and other tissues.
After all of the plaque is removed, your hygienist will polish your teeth to remove surface stains so they look whiter and brighter!
Reasons for a professional dental cleaning:
- Remove plaque, tartar, and calculus
- Reduce inflammation
- Minimize gingivitis and periodontal disease
- Whiten and enhance your smile
- Prevent bad breath (halitosis)
- Help you keep your teeth
- Help maintain overall health
Enamel is one of the hardest substances on Earth. Unfortunately, acid from the foods you eat and bacteria in your mouth can eat the enamel of your teeth away. Fluoride helps keep enamel strong and aids in cavity prevention and sometimes even reversal by helping your enamel to re-mineralize and harden.
The hard surface of your roots is called cementum. If cementum is exposed to the oral environment it is prone to decay because it isn’t as strong as the enamel that covers the crown of a tooth. Fluoride application to root surfaces can help reduce the risk for future decay. Another benefit to fluoride use is its desensitization effects. Topical fluoride application to sensitive areas of exposed roots can help them to re-mineralize and close off the microscopic tubules leading to the nerve from the oral environment.
Professional fluoride treatment is a safe and effective way of reducing your risk of dental decay. We use the latest proven methods of fluoride application to safely deliver fluoride to your teeth.
Reasons to get a professional fluoride application:
- Topical fluoride application in children and adults that are moderate and high risk for caries (decay)
- Desensitization for exposed root surfaces
- Decay prevention on exposed root surfaces
- Fluoride application surrounding metal orthodontic braces and brackets
We’d Like To Be Your Family’s Home For Gentle Dental Care in Woodbury, MN!
Our friendly and professional team is eager to serve you. We offer convenient scheduling to cater to busy families like yours. Click here to email our office or call (651) 702-4200. One of our team members will happily help you schedule a convenient appointment time.