Dental hygiene and exams
An important part of your oral health is having regular exams and cleanings. During a dental exam, the dentist or hygienist will check for cavities and gum disease and thoroughly clean your teeth.
X-rays and CT scans
In addition to your cleaning and exam, we may also take imaging of your mouth using x-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans. X-rays are done in order to detect decay between teeth, changes in the thickness of the bone caused by gum disease, look for possible tumors and check for the breakdown of dental fillings. CT scans are more often used to help guide tooth implant placement, look for problems in the gums, roots of teeth or jaw and look for potential cysts and tumors.
Oral cancer screenings
One of our most important jobs as your oral health provider is to perform regular oral cancer screenings to ensure early detection and the best chance for survival and recovery. Because you generally only see your regular doctor when a problem comes up, your dentist is in a unique position – inside your mouth – to screen you for oral cancer on a regular, twice-yearly basis. Some of the things we look for and things you should be on the lookout for at home include (can occur anywhere inside the mouth including the lips, cheeks, tongue, gums, and throat):
- Sores, swelling, lumps or thick patches
- Red or white lesions
- Feeling of lump or something stuck in the throat
- Numbness, pain or tenderness
- Pain in the ear without loss of hearing
- Trouble moving jaw or tongue, swallowing or speaking
- Loose teeth with no apparent dental problem
- Lingering sore throat or hoarseness
Oral cancer is unfortunately on the rise in the United States – one American dies every hour. There are certain lifestyle habits and risk factors that put you at a higher risk for developing oral cancer, although 25% of oral cancer patients have no risk factors. These risk factors can include:
- Men are 2x more likely to develop oral cancer
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Alcohol use
- Poor diet
- Sun exposure
Sealants are a great way to protect against tooth decay and cavities on your back teeth (molars). These are the teeth that are most vulnerable to cavities and decay because they are used in the chewing process, and are the most difficult to reach and clean. Molars first come in at around 5-7 years of age, with a second set coming in between the ages of 11-14. It is best to have a sealant placed when the molars first come in to ensure they are protected early.
To place a sealant an adhesive is first applied to the teeth. The sealant is then placed over the adhesive as a liquid, as if it is painted right onto the tooth. The liquid then hardens and creates a barrier between your tooth and any plaque, food particles, and bacteria. Sealants last for about 10 years and can be reapplied if necessary.