In addition to your regular home regimen of brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes and daily flossing, having consistent cleanings and exams will help you avoid the decay of your teeth and prevention of gum disease.
The key to preventing decay starts with the control of dental plaque and calculus in your mouth. Plaque is that colorless bacteria which adheres to the surface of your teeth, while calculus is a harder mineral deposit. Plaque and Calculus are the main sources of decay and periodontal disease. When you keep a proper daily routine of dental maintenance, many of the common oral diseases can be prevented.
Our excellent Fargo dental hygienists will assist you in the learning proper hygiene and management of your gums and teeth.
When you visit our office for a regular checkup, you can except your hygienist to:
- Check for cavities or any evidence of tooth decay
- Update necessary digital X-rays
- Document problems or evidence of oral cancer
- Inspect your gums and teeth for potential signs of gingivitis or gum disease
- Deliver a thorough cleaning and polish your teeth
- Administer a fluoride treatment to help prevent tooth decay
Medical History Review
As a part of your visit with our dentists, Dr. Began, Dr. DeBates, Dr. Samuel, and Dr. Spellman, will review any changes to your medical history that have happened since your last visit. This review is just a small part of your appointment, but is critical information that we use to know how to properly treat you.
The information we need to know:
- An updated list of medications including your doses and frequency
- Any recent hospitalizations or surgery
- Updated diagnosis and conditions
- Previous conditions or illnesses
Why do we need to know all of this?
We want to make sure we treat you the best way possible. Some illnesses of medications have a potential to put you at an increased risk for decay or infection. When we have knowledge of your medical history, we have a full picture of your health and we can properly discuss any options to lower risk at your appointment. Common ailments that can have an impact on 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, your dentist or 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. Another keep aspect is to check your bite and jaw for problems.
It is our recommendation to take x-rays of your mouth when we perform a complete oral examination. This allows us to accurately assess the health of your tissues which are not visible: such as like bone, between your teeth, and the inside of your teeth.
If you have active tooth decay or cavities or are a person who is prone to decay, we will review the risk factors and help you create a plan for reducing the risk of decay in your future. Additionally, if you have boneloss due to a gum or periodontal infection, we will discuss with you a home care regimen that to help manage your oral health and diminish the risk of further bone loss. We will also recommend a specific plan for restoration that is personalized for your specific dental needs.
Once you lose bone in your jaw and around your teeth, your body is unable to generate 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.
Screening for Oral Cancer
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 although 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 thoroughly exam 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 generally small and painless and therefore often is unnoticed by the victim. Thus illustrates the importance of continued and regular dental care. We are uniquely trained to catch suspicious lesions and will recommend a biopsy of irregular tissue. Oral cancer is so deadly because it is usually caught very late.
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 2 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 a hardened substance making it impossible to remove on your own, so it's important 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