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Preventative dental care is designed to help keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy throughout your life. Our experienced family dentistry team provides comprehensive dental exams that can help us assess your oral health, treat any potential concerns, and provide personalized dental hygiene advice. Here at Delaware Smile Center, we are dedicated to providing you with the highest quality service possible, and we consider ourselves partners in your healthcare. We invite you to explore the informative sections below to learn more about what a complete dental exam with us includes and what we can do to help keep your smile healthy and confident at any age or stage of dental treatment.

Dental Exams

A Complete Dental Exam From Delaware Smile Center

Your oral health is important, and with proper preventative care, we can help you enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile for the rest of your life. When you come to Delaware Smile Center for a complete dental exam, you’ll be getting more than your typical dental check-up. With a full examination that includes your joints, gums, teeth, bite, and soft tissues, we’ll determine your oral health care needs so we can begin a plan that will keep your mouth healthy both in the present and over the long-term.

Why Are Comprehensive Exams Necessary?

Comprehensive dental exams are necessary for keeping you in the best health possible. Did you know there are numerous health issues that begin to show signs in the mouth before they appear anywhere else? The early indicators of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and other similar conditions can often be found in the mouth, and our dentists or hygienists can discover those signs and refer you to a doctor for further diagnosis and treatment. Early detection is often crucial when it comes to ensuring treatment is optimally effective, and we want to help protect your holistic health in addition to your oral health.

Another reason to get a complete exam is that our dentists can get to know you, your mouth, your lifestyle, and your overall health. This will give us a chance to offer dental hygiene tips, as well as to detect diseases or other oral problems before they become bigger concerns. Most oral health care problems are easier to treat when spotted early.

What Does a Dental Exam Include?

When you visit our office for a complete dental exam, there are some things we’ll do differently than when you get a regular exam. Our complete oral exams typically include the following elements:

  • Going over a written record of your dental and medical history. This includes a list of any medications you recently took, as well as any you are currently taking.
  • Discussing your oral hygiene habits and recommending areas where you can improve.
  • Completing an oral cancer screening. The doctor will do this by looking at your lips, tongue, and the inside of your cheeks. Your dentist may also feel your lymph nodes with his or her fingers.
  • Performing a tooth-by-tooth check. This helps us determine if you have any cavities, cracks, chips, or missing teeth. It also helps us understand what prior treatments you have had, as well as the condition of any fillings, crowns, or other previous dental work.
  • Checking for periodontal disease with a thorough gum assessment.
  • Taking a series of x-rays that will look at the condition of your teeth, as well as your jaw and other surrounding bones.
  • Completing an occlusal exam. This gives us an idea of whether you have problems with your jaw, have particularly worn teeth, or are dealing with bite problems.
  • If the patient wishes, we can also evaluate the aesthetics of your smile to see if you could benefit from cosmetic dentistry services such as Kör teeth whitening or other similar procedures. We may also recommend orthodontic treatment.

If you have bridges or dentures, this type of exam is just as important as if you still had your natural teeth. The dentist will check to make sure your prosthetic replacements fit properly and evaluate whether you may need an adjustment or a replacement prosthetic.

What Happens Next?

Following your complete dental exam, your dentist will recommend a course of action based on your health needs and aesthetic goals. We will discuss with you the risks you face, as well as what preventative measures you can take to reduce those risks. If you have certain considerable risks, such as those of gum disease or tooth decay, the dentist may recommend more frequent dentist visits. However, most of the time we will simply recommend that you make twice-yearly appointments.

If there are any further treatments that need to be done, your dentist will discuss those needs with you as well. This might include having a filling or crown placed, having a tooth pulled, or receiving an orthodontic treatment, such as braces or Invisalign.

Dental X-Rays

Visiting the dentist twice each year is essential when it comes to protecting your oral health. At your visits, typical procedural steps will be taken, in addition to anything extra that is necessary for your health. Two of the typical procedural steps are x-rays and dental cleanings. Having these two things done at each visit can help safeguard your health while ensuring any issues are addressed early on.

Why Do I Need to Have X-Rays Taken?

A dental x-ray offers the dentist a more in-depth look at your overall dental health. While traditional x-rays use radiation, we exclusively use digital x-rays at Delaware Smile Center. This reduces exposure and allows us to perform a more comprehensive exam than we could offer before.

An x-ray will give our dentist a good look between and inside your teeth. The roots of your teeth and the bone beneath your gums are just as important as the surface of your teeth, and we are able to see those with x-rays as well. If you need dental work done on a particular tooth, the dental x-ray gives us a direct view of where the problem is so we can perform the most precise treatment possible. Additional things x-rays can detect include:

  • Bone loss
  • Tumors, both cancerous and non-cancerous
  • Cysts
  • Abscesses
  • Abnormal development

When these situations are detected at an early stage, it can be extremely beneficial in the long-term. Early detection and efficient treatment can save you time, money, stress, and discomfort.

Dental Cleanings

What is a Dental Cleaning Like?

You typically get your dental cleanings done at the same appointment as your dental x-rays. A cleaning is done by a hygienist, and it primarily serves to remove the plaque deposits that build up on the teeth between visits. Even with excellent oral hygiene at home, plaque can form on your teeth. It typically builds up on the teeth’s surfaces, as well as along the gum line. Your dental hygienist will also likely perform a procedure known as periodontal probing. Using a specialized measurement tool, they will gently evaluate the state of your gums and assess the cause of any inflammation. This allows us to track the long-term health of your periodontium, or the gums and other tissues that support the teeth. Untreated periodontal disease can lead to serious issues, including painful inflammation and tooth loss. Probing allows us to help formulate an appropriate periodontal care plan to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

You typically won’t feel pain when our hygienists clean your teeth. For patients who struggle with anxiety or sensitivity, a topical anesthetic can be placed on your gum tissue to numb the area and reduce sensation during the cleaning. We also offer more advanced sedation dentistry techniques, if needed.

Routine Dental Cleanings vs. Deep Cleanings

In some cases, our dentists may recommend you undergo a deep cleaning rather than a routine dental cleaning. So what is the difference between these two treatments? Routine cleanings are intended to address the typical levels of bacteria and plaque buildup that occur between your twice yearly dental visits. This type of cleaning is best suited to those who visit the dentist regularly and maintain good oral hygiene at home.

A deep cleaning—also sometimes referred to as scaling and root planing—is designed to address a more significant level of plaque buildup that impacts the teeth, gums, and even tooth roots. Plaque buildup can cause infection and inflammation of the gums, and these early stages of gum disease can then lead to the development of “pockets” between the teeth and gums. Plaque and bacteria can settle in these pockets, leading to more advanced levels of periodontal disease, bone density deterioration, and eventual tooth loss. A deep cleaning is designed to remove plaque and clear out these gum pockets in order to treat the early signs of gum disease, restore your periodontal health, and prevent irreversible damage.

How Much Time Will a Typical Dental Exam Take?

In most instances, your dental x-rays and cleaning will take approximately half an hour, though they can sometimes be shorter or longer. The precise time will depend on several factors, including the amount of plaque that has built up on your teeth, if anything is detected in your full mouth x-ray, and if there are any other complications to consider. Ultimately, a thirty-minute cleaning twice a year can help protect your teeth, gums, and overall health for life!

“This was by far the best dental office experience I've had! The dental hygienist that worked with me explained everything she was doing. She also took time to educate me on the best ways to keep my teeth healthy. Turns out I had never actually been shown the proper way to floss my teeth!” - Amanda W.

Good Dental Hygiene

There are billions of bacteria inside your mouth at any given time. While some of these bacteria are necessary to maintain oral health, most of them build up into plaque and can lead to less-than-desirable outcomes such as cavities and gum disease. To preserve your oral health, it’s important to practice good dental hygiene habits every day. Here are some best practices to ensure that your smile stays as healthy as possible.

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Use Your Toothbrush Correctly

While you may assume there’s no “wrong” way to brush your teeth, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. Brushing your teeth incorrectly is almost as bad as not brushing your teeth at all! Improper brushing techniques do not remove plaque and can lead to further problems. To remove plaque more effectively, be sure to brush your teeth in circular motions while applying enough pressure so that the plaque is dislodged.

Another common mistake people make when brushing their teeth is not brushing their tongues. Plaque can build up on the tongue as well, leading to bad breath and other oral health problems. Make sure to brush your tongue gently every time you brush your teeth.

Additionally, keep in mind that dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for at least two minutes, so be sure to take your time.

Brush Twice a Day

It’s common knowledge that proper dental care involves brushing twice a day, yet many of us still go to bed without brushing our teeth. This mistake allows germs and plaque to accumulate in our mouths at night. When plaque is not removed often enough, it hardens on the teeth and becomes difficult to remove. Brushing twice a day prevents plaque and tartar buildup and helps improve gum health.

Floss Before You Brush

Using dental floss regularly before you brush your teeth has many dental hygiene benefits. While your toothbrush may do a great job of removing most of the residue from your teeth, floss can reach places your toothbrush can’t. In addition, flossing regularly improves the health and strength of your gums.

It’s best to floss your teeth before you brush, instead of after. After all, you wouldn’t choose to sweep your floor after you mop it, would you? When you floss before you brush, you’re dislodging the plaque from between your teeth to where it can be more easily brushed away.

Eat and Drink for Dental Health

Fortunately, simple diet and lifestyle changes also have significant benefits when it comes to dental hygiene. Choosing to munch on fresh, crunchy produce can help to remove plaque from your teeth while adding more fiber to your diet. Things like celery or apples are perfect examples of foods that can help improve your oral health.

Avoiding lots of sugar is another way to improve your overall dental health. Sugar encourages the growth of bacteria that produce acid in the mouth, which can lead to the erosion of enamel on your teeth. This process ultimately leads to cavities when left unchecked. Also, be mindful of acidic drinks, such as diet sodas.

Another effective strategy to help improve your oral health is to drink plenty of water, especially after meals. This can help reduce the acid in your mouth and wash away the food particles and sticky residues associated with certain foods.

Add Mouthwash to Your Care Plan

Many people don’t understand the advantages of using mouthwash and therefore skip it entirely. Mouthwash helps keep your mouth clean in several ways. Not only does mouthwash reduce the amount of acid present in the mouth, but it also remineralizes your teeth and cleans those hard-to-reach areas around your gums.

Just like toothpaste, there’s a mouthwash for everyone. Some types are best for children, while others may help with sensitive teeth. Prescription mouthwash is also available to help treat gingivitis and reduce bacteria in the mouth.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

While your everyday efforts are critical to your overall oral health, it’s still important to see your dentist for regular checkups. Dentists are trained to spot potential issues in their early stages, often helping circumvent costly treatments further down the line. Additionally, they can remove hardened plaque and identify cavities that you may not have yet noticed. Our dentists may also administer fluoride treatments, which can increase the strength and health of your teeth.